It’s one of the biggest purchases people make, but two new FTC staff reports examine some common pitfalls when consumers are in the market for a car. Buckle down and read the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Buckle Up: Navigating Auto Sales and Financing, which focuses on the challenges buyers face in getting accurate, understandable information when shopping for a vehicle.
Blog Posts Tagged with Automobiles
The FTC’s actions against Volkswagen for false “clean diesel” claims were record-setting in size, scope, and seriousness. The defendants spent millions to pitch their cars to environmentally conscious consumers. But behind those low emissions numbers was a dirty little secret – and we do mean dirty: The defendants had cheated on the test. The cases made headlines in 2016 and 2017 and for many people, that was the end of the road.
The beige envelope says IMPORTANT COVID-19 ECONOMIC STIMULUS DOCUMENT ENCLOSED. Inside – next to what appears to be the Great Seal of the United States – is the phrase COVID-19 STIMULUS (INDIVIDUAL) and a 16-digit serial number. The mailer also includes a check purporting to be from the “Stimulus Relief Program.” Is it official information affiliated with a COVID-19 economic stimulus program? We won’t leave you in suspense. It’s a car ad.
The FTC’s complaint against Bronx Honda alleges the company jacked up what consumers had to pay by fabricating fees, inflating charges, and sneaking in stealth add-ons. The lawsuit also alleges the defendants discriminated against African-American and Hispanic consumers by charging them higher financing markups and fees, in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Reg B.
If you say you’re better, you’d better be better – and you’d better have appropriate proof to back up that claim. That’s a takeaway tip for businesses from the FTC’s proposed settlement with Federal-Mogul Motorparts, LLC.
Coldplay sang “Fix You,” but if the group had been referring to their tech devices, cars, or other products in need of repair, their efforts could have consumer protection ramifications. A July 16, 2019, FTC event, Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions, will focus on the state of the repair marketplace. Are manufacturers making it difficult (or even impossible) for consumers or independent shops to make product repairs?
The domino principle. The ripple effect. The butterfly phenomenon. Apply the analogy of your choice to describe what happens when one software developer’s allegedly lax security practices result in the breach of confidential customer information maintained by multiple businesses that use the software.
If you have a 2012, 2013, or 2014 Passat 2.0L TDI and got the approved emissions modification, Volkswagen has identified a potential problem with the “fix” it installed on your car that needs your immediate attention. If you have one of those vehicles but haven’t gotten the modification, you must make an important decision very soon. You’ll be getting a detailed letter in the mail from VW about this, but in the meantime, here are some key facts.
Here’s something likely to make consumers start firing on all cylinders: receiving an “URGENT RECALL NOTICE” in the mail with a “warning” that their vehicle “may be under an important factory/safety recall.” But according to an FTC lawsuit against the Passport group of car dealerships in the Washington, D.C., area, the vast majority of people who received those notices didn’t have a vehicle subject to an open recall.
Thinking about replacing a company car or truck? Unless you take some security steps before selling the vehicle, you could be leaving behind a water bottle or two, some change under the seat – and a massive amount of corporate and personal data.
Whether it’s a slimmer waist or an imaginary yacht superimposed in the background, we’re all familiar with the dramatic changes that retouching can make to a photo. A lawsuit the FTC has filed against Tate’s Auto Group and related companies alleges – among other things – that the defendants substantially “retouched” the financial circumstances of customers trying to finance cars.
So we went used car shopping recently – the FTC and 12 other law enforcement agencies. We visited 94 dealerships in 20 cities across the country. Yes, we saw some low-mileage cream puffs, but that’s not what we were in the market for. We wanted to see if dealerships were displaying the revised Buyers Guide required as of January 28, 2018. The results proved interesting.
When the screen goes blue
And the car breaks down
And the smartphone keeps rebooting eternally
Consumers won’t be afraid
No, they won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand by your warranty.
Military families face all the consumer protection issues other Americans face – and then some. Frequent moves and deployments can pose additional financial challenges for servicemembers. And some of these concerns continue even after they’ve settled into civilian life.
Car ads used to include shorthand like 2D, AWD, and AC. Today’s car buyer is just as likely to ask about USB, GPS, and wifi. Last June, the FTC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hosted a workshop in Washington to discuss the types of information that connected and autonomous cars collect and the ways the data can be used.
Before consumers buy a used car, we suggest they consult the Buyers Guide posted in the window. And before dealers post the Buyers Guide, we suggest they consult Answering Dealers’ Questions about the Revised Used Car Rule, a new resource to help them comply with the Rule.
Our job at the Bureau of Consumer Protection is to protect consumers by enforcing the FTC Act’s prohibition on deceptive and unfair practices. It’s important that we carry out that mission effectively and efficiently.
Pork Chop Hill Road, Screaming Eagle Boulevard, Hell on Wheels Avenue, or my former home on Patton Drive. If those street names sound familiar, chances are you’re a servicemember, a veteran, or part of a military family. July is the Month of the Military Consumer and the FTC has resources to help keep members of the military fiscally fit and scam savvy – and a tip for businesses that do business with military consumers.
If you own or operate gas stations, chances are you know about skimmers – illegal card readers attached to payment terminals, like gas pumps, that grab data off a credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe without the customer’s knowledge. Criminals sell the stolen data or use it to buy things online. If your pumps are compromised, customers won’t know their information has been stolen until they get an account statement or overdraft notice.
Customers aren’t only victims here. Your business can suffer from the associated costs, including a damaged reputation and lost sales.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. The FTC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have announced the agenda for their joint workshop on the consumer privacy and security implications of connected cars. If this emerging tech issue is of interest to your clients, race to Washington (within the lawful speed limit, of course) to attend the event on Wednesday, June 28, 2017.