In the Matter of General Motors LLC, File Number 152-3101
"Certified" Used Cars must = All Safety Recalls are Done I am a consumer attorney. I represent people ripped off by unscrupulous car dealers as a mainstay of my practice. I am writing because I am gratified to know that the FTC has started to crack down on dealers who sell unsafe recalled used cars as "certified." However, my understanding is that you are planning let dealers settle these cases by agreeing to "clearly disclose the existence of the recalls in close proximity to the inspection claims." That is appalling. The only reasonable standard is that a "certified" used car MUST MEAN that all extant safety recalls have been completed, or it CAN NOT be sold as a "certified" used car. Anything else is confusing Orwellian nonsense. As a consumer attorney, I can tell you from daily experience that the average consumer already labors under the gross mis-impression that the there is a federal watchdog that is standing guard over car dealers and keeping them in line. 99 out of 100 consumers, if polled, would be astonished to learn that you could legally even sell a CPO car with undone safety recalls. It's an oxymoron. It is inherently deceptive for an auto dealer to represent that its vehicles have passed a rigorous inspection, without ensuring that the safety recall repairs have been performed. For the FTC to put a stamp of approval on that practice would be disastrous. No amount or type of disclosure is adequate, when it contradicts the core message: this vehicle has been checked out and passed a detailed inspection. It's not just an OK car, it's a cut above. "Certified" is a form of warranty, that creates a reasonable expectation of superior quality that is inconsistent with having any major defect or nonconformity -- especially a safety defect. Bottom line, allowing sales of unsafe vehicles with "disclosure" would put many vulnerable low-income car buyers at risk, due to lack of easy access to the internet / computers and a lack of English language proficiency. We know it's very hard for victims of auto frauds involving recalled cars to prove that nothing was disclosed. And in my own practice I've seen that some dealers routinely forge signatures on documents to "make them right." We know from cognitive research that disclosures are ineffective, particularly where they directly contradict the overall thrust of the sales message. We can NOT depend on disclosures to protect consumers when it comes to safety recalls. See, for example: http://www.propublica.org/thetrade/item/the-trouble-with-disclosure-it-d... And letting dealers sell unsafe vehicles (and we know that they're unsafe, because there is an outstanding safety recall) with "disclosure" + a "Certified" stamp will make the roads more dangerous for everyone, not only those who buy the cars. Consumers have NO IDEA about individual safety recalls. This means it will be easy for unscrupulous dealers to profit more by not doing the right thing than by doing it. Bottom line: The average consumer already thinks that the AVERAGE used car can't be sold without required recalls being done -- and legally, that's absolutely false. At least we should make it true for these so called "premium" used cars. I can't believe you would even consider allowing this perverse idea. We know that caveat emptor doesn't work -- it rewards the fly-by-night sleazy dealers at the expense of the good ones. At the very least, hold the line on certified used cars -- a "certified" used car MUST MEAN THAT ALL SAFETY RECALLS HAVE BEEN DONE.