9523207
B231263

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

In The Matter of

BEUCKMAN FORD, INC., a corporation, and FRED J. BEUCKMAN, III, individually and as an officer of the corporation.

DOCKET NO. C-3777

COMPLAINT

The Federal Trade Commission, having reason to believe that Beuckman Ford, Inc., a corporation, and Fred J. Beuckman, III, individually and as an officer of the corporation ("respondents"), have violated the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 45-58, as amended, the Consumer Leasing Act, 15 U.S.C.  1667-1667e, as amended, and its implementing Regulation M, 12 C.F.R.  213, as amended, and the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. 1601-1667, as amended, and its implementing Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R.  226, as amended, and it appearing to the Commission that this proceeding is in the public interest, alleges:

1. Respondent Beuckman Ford, Inc. is a Missouri corporation with its principal office or place of business at 15675 Manchester Road, Ballwin, Missouri 63011. Respondent offers automobiles for sale or lease to consumers.

2. Respondent Fred J. Beuckman, III is an officer of the corporate respondent. Individually or in concert with others, he formulates, directs, or controls the policies, acts, or practices of the corporation, including the acts or practices alleged in this complaint. His principal office or place of business is the same as that of Beuckman Ford, Inc.

3. Respondents have disseminated advertisements to the public that promote consumer leases, as the terms "advertisement" and "consumer lease" are defined in Section 213.2 of Regulation M, 12 C.F.R.  213.2, as amended.

4. Respondents have disseminated advertisements to the public that promote credit sales and other extensions of closed-end credit in consumer credit transactions, as the terms "advertisement," "credit sale," and "consumer credit" are defined in Section 226.2 of Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R.  226.2, as amended.

5. The acts and practices of respondents alleged in this complaint have been in or affecting commerce, as "commerce" is defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C.  44.

LEASE ADVERTISING

1. Respondents have disseminated or have caused to be disseminated consumer lease advertisements ("lease advertisements") for automobiles in the print media, including but not necessarily limited to the attached Exhibits A, B, and C. These lease advertisements contain the following statements:

A. "1994 AEROSTAR

STARTING AT

$14,988 OR $278.80**

24 MONTH RCL

INCLUDES ALL TAXES, LICENSE & FEES"

[A fine print statement at the bottom of the ad states, "**10% of MSRP down plus 1st & security, includes all rebates and incentives to qualified buyers."] (Exhibit A)

B. "'95 WINDSTAR GL

$17,588* or $273* PER MO.

24 MONTH RCL

INCLUDES ALL TAXES & FEES!"

[A fine print statement at the bottom of the ad states, "*All prices include Ford rebates, college graduate or commercial rebates where applicable. All payments based on 9.5 APR to qualified buyers. 60 months. No money down.**10% of MSRP plus rebates."] (Exhibit B)

C. "1995 WINDSTAR GL

$16,986 OR $259.99 PER MO.

24 MONTH RCL

INCLUDES TAX AND LICENSE"

[A fine print statement at the bottom of the ad states, "Windstar lease payment in lieu of purchase rebate. Reg. 10% of MSRP down plus 1st month and security deposit."] (Exhibit C)

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION ACT VIOLATIONS

Count I: Failure to Disclose Adequately Inception Fees

1. In lease advertisements, including but not necessarily limited to Exhibits A, B, and C, respondents have represented, expressly or by implication, that consumers can lease the advertised vehicles at the terms prominently stated in the advertisements, including but not necessarily limited to the monthly payment amount.

2. These lease advertisements do not adequately disclose additional terms pertaining to obligations at lease inception, including but not necessarily limited to one or more of the following charges: a required downpayment, security deposit, first month's payment, and taxes. This information does not appear at all, appears in very fine print, and/or is referenced by asterisks that do not correspond to the asterisks depicted in the main text of the advertisements.

3. These additional terms would be material to consumers in deciding whether to visit respondents' dealership and/or whether to lease an automobile from respondents. The failure to disclose adequately these additional terms, in light of the representation made, was, and is, a deceptive practice.

4. Respondents' practices constitute deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce in violation of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C.  45(a).

Count II: Failure to Disclose that the Transaction

Advertised is a Lease

1. In lease advertisements, including but not necessarily limited to Exhibits A, B, and C, respondents have represented, expressly or by implication, that consumers can purchase the advertised vehicles by financing the vehicles through credit at the advertised monthly payment and term.

2. These lease advertisements fail to disclose that the term "RCL" is an abbreviation for "Red Carpet Lease" or to otherwise disclose that the advertised monthly payment and term are components of a lease offer. The existence of this additional information would be material to consumers in deciding whether to visit respondents' dealership and/or whether to lease or purchase an automobile from respondents. The failure to disclose adequately this additional term, in light of the representation made, was, and is, a deceptive practice.

3. Respondents' practices constitute deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce in violation of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C.  45(a).

CONSUMER LEASING ACT AND REGULATION M VIOLATIONS

Count III: Failure to Disclose Required Information

Clearly and Conspicuously

1. In lease advertisements, including but not necessarily limited to Exhibits A, B, and C, respondents have stated a monthly payment amount, the number of required payments, and/or an amount "down."

2. These lease advertisements have failed to disclose clearly and conspicuously the following items of information required by Regulation M: that the transaction advertised is a lease; the total amount of any payment such as a security deposit or capitalized cost reduction required at the consummation of the lease or that no such payments are required; the total of scheduled payments due under the lease; a statement of whether or not the lessee has the option to purchase the leased property and at what price and time or, in lieu of disclosure of the price, the method of determining the purchase-option price; and a statement of the amount or method of determining the amount of any liabilities the lease imposes upon the lessee at the end of the term.

4. Respondents' practices have violated Section 184 of the Consumer Leasing Act, 15 U.S.C.  1667c, and Section 213.5(c) of Regulation M, 12 C.F.R. 213.5(c).

CREDIT ADVERTISING

1. Respondents have disseminated or have caused to be disseminated credit sale advertisements ("credit advertisements") for automobiles in the print media, including but not necessarily limited to the attached Exhibit B. These advertisements contain the following statements:

"'95 MUSTANG GT COUPE

$17,988* OR $377.99 PER MO

NO MONEY DOWN"

[A fine print statement at the bottom of the ad states, "All payments based on 9.5 APR to qualified buyers. 60 months, no money down."] (Exhibit B)

TRUTH IN LENDING ACT AND REGULATION Z VIOLATIONS

Count IV: Failure to Disclose Required Information

Clearly and Conspicuously

1. In credit advertisements, including but not necessarily limited to Exhibit B, respondents have stated a monthly payment amount and/or an amount "down" as terms for financing the purchase of the advertised vehicles.

2. These credit advertisements have failed to disclose clearly and conspicuously the following items of information required by Regulation Z: the annual percentage rate and the terms of repayment.

3. The items of information required by Regulation Z are not clear and conspicuous because they appear in very fine print.

4. Respondents' practices have violated Section 144 of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. 1664, and Section 226.24(c) of Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. 226.24(c).

THEREFORE, the Federal Trade Commission this fifth day of January, 1998, has issued this complaint against respondents.

By the Commission, Commissioner Thompson and Commissioner Swindle not participating.

Donald S. Clark
Secretary

SEAL:

[Exhibits A-C attached to paper copies of complaint, but not available in electronic form]