When it comes to car advertising, truth should be standard equipment. That’s the message of Operation Ruse Control, a coast-to-coast and cross-border sweep by the FTC and state, federal, and international law enforcers aimed at driving out deception in automobile ads, adds-ons, financing, and auto loan modification services. The FTC cases offer 6 tips to help keep your promotions in the proper lane.
Blog Posts Tagged with Automobiles
If your company offers warranties, a proposed FTC settlement with BMW of North America’s MINI Division suggests that a compliance check-up could be warranted.
She’s got a competition clutch with four on the floor
And she purrs like a kitten ‘til the lake pipes roar.
And if that ain’t enough to make you flip your lid,
There's one more thing. I got the pink slip, Daddy.
53 and it’s likely to go up. That’s the number of data security law enforcement actions the FTC has settled so far. The facts of each case are different, but distilled down to the basics, they stand for one central proposition: Your company’s data security measures should be reasonable and appropriate in light of the sensitivity and amount of consumer information you have, the size and complexity of your business, and the availability and cost of tools to improve security and reduce vulnerabilities.
“$1 gets you out of your current loan or lease!” According to Trophy Nissan in the Dallas area, consumers could end their loan or lease for a buck – less than the cost of one of those air fresheners hanging from the rearview mirror. Trophy also promised to “match your tax refund so you can use it for a down payment!” Those are just two of the claims the FTC challenged as deceptive in a proposed settlement with the dealership.
When it comes to cars, sometimes good things come in twos: double wishbone suspension, dual overhead cams, twin torsion bars, and classic 2 + 2 muscle cars. What’s not on that list? Two lawsuits charging two auto dealers with deceptive advertising in violation of two FTC orders.
Sometimes good things come in threes, like Musketeers, Bronte sisters, and Stooges. (Shemp doesn’t count.) But the FTC’s complaint against Consumer Portfolio Services charges the company with three distinct sets of violations – unlawful auto loan servicing, illegal debt collection, and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s Furnisher Rule – all of which spelled triple trouble for consumers. But there’s relief on the way in the form of a
Consumers once shopped predominantly at their local stores; but first mail order catalogs and today the Internet have created new ways to shop for and purchase a wide range of goods and services. Similarly, consumers once arranged for taxis by hailing one from a street corner or by calling a dispatcher; yet today, smartphones and new software applications are shaking up the transportation industry, creating new business opportunities and new services for consumers.
On any given Sunday in Illinois, consumers can do their weekly shopping at various “brick and mortar” stores or turn to online vendors virtually 24-7. They can even purchase alcohol on Sunday after 11:00 a.m. But for decades they have been barred by law from purchasing a new or used automobile from a licensed car dealer.
For people in the market for a car, an ad on YouTube for Massachusetts-based Courtesy Auto Group featured some eye-catching numbers: “Get behind the wheel of the new 2013 Kia Sorento, now lease priced for $239 a month with zero down, or sale priced at $20,980.” To emphasize the point, the visual on the screen highlighted in bold letters:
with $0 down
“A word to the wise should be sufficient.” We’re not sure who first coined that proverb. Aesop? King Solomon? Ben Franklin? But whoever it was, if he's in the market for a used car in Arkansas, here’s news he might want to consider.
When an ad purports to show a “right before your eyes” demonstration of a product in action, the visual must be a truthful representation of what it can do. If that’s not the case, both the advertiser and the ad agency can find themselves in law enforcement quicksand. That may have been news to Don Draper and his colleagues at Sterling Cooper in the early 60s, but it’s been a well-established legal tenet since then. The FTC’s complaint against Nissan North Amer
In a drive to encourage truth in auto advertising, the FTC has announced Operation Steer Clear – a coast-to-coast law enforcement sweep focusing on deceptive TV, newspaper, and online claims about sales, financing, and leasing. If you have clients in the auto industry, the lessons of Operation Steer Clear can help keep them on the right track.
Most retailers and buyers approach a purchase with the best of intentions. But let's face it: Glitch happens. If a company sells a product with a warranty, consumers need up-front access to information about what the seller will do if things go south later. That’s the thinking behind the FTC’s Rule about the Pre-Sale Availability of Written Warranty Terms.
If there are strings attached to a particular deal, those material terms and conditions have to be clearly and conspicuously disclosed up front. That well-settled legal principle applies to online ads. It applies to car ads. And so (QED) it applies to online car ads. That should come as no surprise to savvy marketers. But two FTC settlements underscore it, highlight it, and festoon it with multi-colored pennants for members of the auto industry — and other advertisers, too.
The wheels are turning on proposed updates to the FTC’s Used Car Rule. Formally known as the Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule (although only its Mother calls it that), the Rule has been in effect since 1985. It requires car dealers to display a window sticker, called a Buyers Guide, on used cars they offer for sale. The Buyers Guide gives people information about the car — for example, whether it’s being sold “as is” or with a warranty, what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty, and the syst
If your business is geared toward automotive products, two FTC developments may be in your wheelhouse.
You wouldn’t post customers’ Social Security numbers on your website or stand on the street distributing handbills with hospital patients’ medical information. But if there is improperly configured peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software on a company computer, the result could be about the same. That’s why two FTC settlements deserve your attention.
Last week saw FTC announcements involving allegations of foreclosure rescue fraud, deception aimed at people trying to resell their timeshares, complaints against payday lenders, and lawsuits against outfits claiming to help consumers behind on their car payments. Is there a theme here? You bet. But the message isn't just for companies engaged in practices targeting consumers struggling to stay afloat. There are words to the wise for businesses of any size and every stripe.