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
Blog Posts Tagged with Automobiles
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 Ameri
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 syste
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.
Tough federal and state law enforcement has turned up the heat on mortgage foreclosure rescue scams. So some operators are turning to auto loan modifications to make a fast buck on consumers in financial distress. In the first cases of their kind filed by the FTC, the agency is alleging that two unrelated California outfits charged hundreds of dollars in upfront fees, based on bogus claims they could reduce consumers’ monthly car notes and help them avoid The Repo Man.
If you have clients in the auto industry, you’ve seen the ads: “We’ll pay off your trade no matter what you owe . . . even if you’re upside down.” It’s an attractive claim to people struggling with their finances. But law enforcement settlements announced by the FTC with five dealers from around the country demonstrate the importance of giving people the straight story when making promises about trade-ins where negative equity is involved.
When the FTC brings a law enforcement action, we hope companies take notice. But sometimes there’s a nugget or two that businesses can glean from a decision by the FTC staff to close an investigation. A recent letter from the staff of the Bureau of Consumer Protection to Hyundai Motor America ticks a lot of timely boxes — bloggers, the Super Bowl, and the FTC’s Endorsement Guides — and is worth a read if your company has added social media to your marketing arsenal.
In celebration of Halloween — and with apologies to Edgar Allen Poe — here’s our take on what companies can do to make sure spooky business practices don’t come back to haunt them.
Once upon a midnight lawful
Pondering practices, good and awful,
Reading through the U.S. Code
For dos and don’ts I parse and claw.
I came upon the Trade Commission’s
Section 5 with all revisions.
The FTC’s motor vehicle roundtables are rolling along. The next stop for The Road Ahead: Selling, Financing and Leasing Motor Vehicles is Washington, D.C., on November 17th. The Roundtable — which will take place in the FTC’s New Jersey Avenue Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. — will focus on leasing, a look back at what the FTC has learned throughout the course of the roundtables, and where the FTC should go from here.
These days many shoppers wouldn’t think of buying a product without checking if it comes with a written warranty. And companies in it for the long haul understand the importance of living up to their promises if something goes kablooey. But that wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t until 1975 — when Congress passed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act — that federal teeth were added to consumer warranty protections.