Google has agreed to pay $8 million to the state of Texas to settle a lawsuit over deceptive radio ads promoting the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL handsets. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office had accused Google of engaging in false, misleading, and deceptive acts and practices by having DJs read ad copy that made it sound like they had personally used the phones and loved their features, even though the phones had not yet been released at the time the ads ran.
The settlement comes after Google paid $9 million to settle a similar lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission and six other states.
Pixel 4 Ads Misled Listeners About Night Sight and Google Assistant Features
The ads created by Google for iHeartMedia announcers had them claim that they had used the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL and specifically praised the Night Sight feature for taking photos in low-light environments. However, the phones had not yet been released, and the announcers did not have access to advanced units.
Another ad promoting Google Assistant on the Pixel 4 was also considered misleading, as it claimed that the voice-activated assistant could handle multiple tasks at once, such as reading up on health fads, providing directions, and texting. The settlement holds Google accountable for lying to Texans for financial gain.
Pixel 4’s Underwhelming Features Led to Poor Sales and Pixel 5 Strategy Shift
Despite being touted as an iPhone challenger, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL did not live up to expectations, and their underwhelming features, such as the limited use of the Soli radar chip for Motion Sense gestures, small batteries, and high price points, contributed to poor sales. Google subsequently shifted its strategy by releasing a single, less-premium Pixel 5 handset and focusing on creating a more robust Pixel ecosystem with the upcoming Pixel 6 series.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office emphasized the importance of holding large companies accountable for their misdeeds, stating that they should not expect or enjoy special treatment under the law.