“Just like the white winged dove sings a song,” you can count on the BCP Business Blog to celebrate the “Edge of Seventeen” – 2017, of course – with a recap of in-case-you-missed-it developments from 2016. (Sorry, Stevie Nicks. That was a stretch.) In no particular order, here is our take on ten noteworthy consumer protection actions from the year gone by.
Blog Posts Tagged with Automobiles
When thinking about buying a used car, some people hit a speed bump when they get to the “used” part. It’s one thing to spot a dinged fender or smudged floor mat, but it’s tougher to evaluate a used car’s essential systems. In separate complaints, the FTC charged that CarMax and two large dealership groups touted how rigorously they inspect their used cars and yet failed to clearly disclose to prospective buyers that some were subject to unrepaired safety recalls.
The military community makes many of the same consumer decisions as their civilian counterparts. We all need to manage our money – and avoid rip-offs. But servicemembers and their families also face unique challenges, like frequent relocations and deployment. When a permanent change of station is on the horizon, a military family needs to rent or buy a new place to live, manage money while on the move, and be vigilant about dealing with businesses in an unfamiliar locale. A servicemember’s regular paycheck from Uncle Sam can make them a target for scammers.
The FTC’s Used Car Rule has been the law of the land since 1985. It requires used car dealers to post a Buyers Guide on cars they offer for sale. The Guide gives customers important warranty and other information to help them make informed buying decisions. After asking for public comments, the FTC has made some changes to the Buyers Guide that every used car dealer needs to know about.
A judge has today approved a landmark $10 billion settlement that will enable 500,000 consumers across the country to sell back their tainted diesel-powered cars to Volkswagen.
The $10 billion order secured by the FTC will make consumers whole by remedying the losses they suffered due to VW’s deceptive “Clean Diesel” ad campaign.
For most hard-working Americans, a car represents the most significant purchase after their family home.
Not many kids play with yo-yos these days, but an FTC complaint against nine related Los Angeles-area car dealers charges that the companies engaged in (among other things) illegal yo-yo financing practices – and for affected consumers, it was no game. Even if you don’t have clients in the auto industry, this case merits your attention.
We’ve cautioned companies to give VW owners the straight story about the $10 billion buyback program resulting from VW’s false “clean diesel” claims. But new promotions claiming to be related to the buyback are making the rounds and wait ‘til you hear who’s in their sights this time: auto dealers.
Gary Numan sang, “Here in my car, I can only receive.” Well, those days are in the past. More and more vehicles are outfitted with the latest communications technologies like Bluetooth, GPS navigation, roadside assistance, streaming music, and web browsing. With mobile technologies in rental cars, consumers’ personal information can stay with the car long after the consumer has returned it. If you’re a car rental company, it’s important to think about protecting consumer privacy in connected rental cars.
Well, that didn’t take long.
The details of the historic $10 billion Volkswagen “clean diesel” settlement are still being finalized – and as we mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re already hearing reports of dealers targeting VW owners and lessees with promotions that include half-truths, misinformation, and downright deception.
According to the Sinatra standard, "Love is lovelier the second time around.” But the same can’t be said when a car dealership that has already settled an FTC law enforcement action for deceptively advertising financing and leasing terms engages in further misrepresentations.
The FTC’s recent action against Volkswagen focused on the company’s “clean diesel” claims, which were rendered false by VW’s installation of a defeat device that cheated on emissions tests. The history-making $10 billion settlement will offer eligible car owners choices to compensate them for the deception.
Chances are, one of your customers, employees, or friends will soon be buying a car. You can do them a good turn without going near a wheel.
If you’d like details about how the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act was amended to recalculate penalties using a formula based on the percentage by which the Department of Labor’s October 2015 Consumer Price Index exceeds the Index for October in the year in which the penalty was enacted or last adjusted by law, the FTC has issued a Federal Register Notice explaining it.
The FTC just announced a partial settlement with Volkswagen Group of America that will return as much as $10 billion to owners and lessees of VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars. As the largest false advertising case in FTC history, it’s a record-breaking win for consumers – and it’s in keeping with the law-breaking nature of the deception the FTC alleged in its lawsuit against VW.
Spoiler alert: If the villains in a thriller appear to be vanquished with 20 minutes left in the movie, you can bet they’ll make a dramatic reappearance. A case filed by the FTC targets a B2B tactic that small businesses started seeing years ago, but – to quote Poltergeist II – “They’re ba-ack.” And the defendants in the sequel have added what the FTC says is a bogus imposter angle.
In the words of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, “An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.” If your company provides information about consumers to credit bureaus, the law requires that you have written policies in place regarding the accuracy and integrity of that data. But are your policies worth the paper they’re printed on? That’s one of the issues presented in an FTC settlement with Dallas-based debt collector Credit Protection Association.
Volkswagen Group of America spent multi-millions positioning its “clean diesel” technology as an environmentally conscious choice for car buyers – and sales of more than 550,000 so-called clean diesel vehicles suggest it was a persuasive pitch. But as a just-filed FTC lawsuit alleges, VW scored impressive green numbers by installing each car with a “defeat device” that cheated on emissions testing.
Usually a Top 10 list is something industries are delighted to find themselves on. So we’ll call this one a Flop 10 list, the FTC’s annual report about consumer complaints added in 2015 to the Consumer Sentinel database. How did your industry – and your state – rank in reported complaints?
First, the box score:
Make, model, and cup holders are considerations, of course, but what really matters to a prospective used car buyer is whether the vehicle’s systems check out. It just makes sense, since so many of those systems are tied to safety. But it’s not easy for consumers to tell if they’re buying a lemon or a creampuff. Many dealers try to assuage that concern by advertising that their used cars have passed multi-point checks.
Videos from the live webcast of our Jan. 19th event are now available.