(a) It is unlawful for any person to use the term “prize” or “gift” or other similar term in any manner that would be untrue or misleading, including, but not limited to, the manner made unlawful in subdivision (b) or (c).
(b) It is unlawful to notify any person by any means, as a part of an advertising plan or program, that he or she has won a prize and that as a condition of receiving such prize he or she must pay any money or purchase or rent any goods or services.
(c) It is unlawful to notify any person by any means that he or she will receive a gift and that as a condition of receiving the gift he or she must pay any money, or purchase or lease (including rent) any goods or services, if any one or more of the following conditions exist:
(1) The shipping charge, depending on the method of shipping used, exceeds (A) the average cost of postage or the average charge of a delivery service in the business of delivering goods of like size, weight, and kind for shippers other than the offeror of the gift for the geographic area in which the gift is being distributed, or (B) the exact amount for shipping paid to an independent fulfillment house or an independent supplier, either of which is in the business of shipping goods for shippers other than the offeror of the gift.
(2) The handling charge (A) is not reasonable, or (B) exceeds the actual cost of handling, or (C) exceeds the greater of three dollars ($3) in any transaction or 80 percent of the actual cost of the gift item to the offeror or its agent, or (D) in the case of a general merchandise retailer, exceeds the actual amount for handling paid to an independent fulfillment house or supplier, either of which is in the business of handling goods for businesses other than the offeror of the gift.
(3) Any goods or services which must be purchased or leased by the offeree of the gift in order to obtain the gift could have been purchased through the same marketing channel in which the gift was offered for a lower price without the gift items at or proximate to the time the gift was offered.
(4) The majority of the gift offeror’s sales or leases within the preceding year, through the marketing channel in which the gift is offered or through in-person sales at retail outlets, of the type of goods or services which must be purchased or leased in order to obtain the gift item was made in conjunction with the offer of a gift.
This paragraph does not apply to a gift offer made by a general merchandise retailer in conjunction with the sale or lease through mail order of goods or services (excluding catalog sales) if (A) the goods or services are of a type unlike any other type of goods or services sold or leased by the general merchandise retailer at any time during the period beginning six months before and continuing until six months after the gift offer, (B) the gift offer does not extend for a period of more than two months, and (C) the gift offer is not untrue or misleading in any manner.
(5) The gift offeror represents that the offeree has been specially selected in any manner unless (A) the representation is true and (B) the offeree made a purchase from the gift offeror within the six-month period before the gift offer was made or has a credit card issued by, or a retail installment account with, the gift offeror.
(d) The following definitions apply to this section:
(1) “Marketing channel” means a method of retail distribution, including, but not limited to, catalog sales, mail order, telephone sales, and in-person sales at retail outlets.
(2) “General merchandise retailer” means any person or entity regardless of the form of organization that has continuously offered for sale or lease more than 100 different types of goods or services to the public in California throughout a period exceeding five years.
(e) Each violation of the provisions of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both.
(Amended by Stats. 1986, Ch. 812, Sec. 1. Effective September 15, 1986.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018