People usually think of beacons as radiant lights that attract attention. But the FTC has charged that two Ohio auto dealers (among other things) used the word in a way that kept consumers in the dark.
Blog Posts Tagged with Automobiles
There are three letters every auto dealer should know about. GTO? XKE? Good guesses, but not what we had in mind.
We’re talking about GLB.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires financial institutions to give their customers initial and annual notices about their privacy policies. If the company shares certain customer information with particular types of third parties, they also have to give customers the opportunity to opt out of sharing. The FTC’s Privacy of Consumer Financial Information Rule – friends call it the GLB Privacy Rule – explains the specifics.
They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But here’s one thing that doesn’t belong in Vegas or anywhere else: ads that draw buyers in with eye-catching terms while burying the “gotchas” in fine print. In separate law enforcement actions, the FTC alleged that two Las Vegas dealers – car dealers, that is – didn’t play it straight with consumers.
The Buyers Guide on a used car can’t confirm whether the original owner was that little old lady who just drove to church, but it offers other important information about the scope of any warranty the car comes with. The FTC’s Used Car Rule requires dealers to display the Buyers Guide on used vehicles offered for sale.
Look at those lists of the most admired companies in America and what do you notice about them? Great products, for sure. But many also enjoy stellar reputations for service after the sale. When a buyer is confident you’ll stand by your product, you’ve probably created a customer for life. One measure of that is how you honor your obligations under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
A fundamental principle of competition is that consumers – not regulation – should determine what they buy and how they buy it. Consumers may benefit from the ability to buy cars directly from manufacturers – whether they are shopping for luxury cars or economy vehicles. The same competition principles should apply in either case.
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.
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.