Read Wells Fargo says its promises to restore consumer trust were just ‘puffery.’ But now they look like lies by Michael Hiltzik. Here's an excerpt that sets the theme:
If you’ve ever wondered how businesses can get away with making transparently false or deceptive claims about themselves or their products — “The Best Tasting Juice in America,” Wrigley’s gum is “for whiter teeth, no matter what,” etc., etc. — the answer is an all-purpose legal dodge known as the “puffery” defense. Simply put, judges and regulators have ruled that when a business makes a claim that is either vague or so obviously inflated that people simply won’t believe it, that’s “puffery,” and not actionable in court. Wells Fargo, which is struggling to rebuild its reputation for integrity after a string of scandals involving consumer rip-offs, is testing the limits of the “puffery” defense. In a legal filing last week aimed at getting a shareholder lawsuit dismissed, the company asserted that statements that the bank was working to “restore trust” among its customers and “trying to be more transparent” about its scandals — statements made by its chief executive, Tim Sloan — were, well, just puffery.