In the Matter of Jim Koons Management Company, File Number 152-3104
I am a consumer lawyer who has represented many people who were sold unsafe cars by a car dealer. Unsafe cars are a danger to both the buyer, and to anyone using the roads when unsafe cars are driven. No dealer should be allowed to sell at retail unsafe cars with open recalls if a remedy is available. Before such a car is put back on the road, the remedy should be performed. The FTC should never create a process that allows for dealers to sell cars with open recalls where a remedy exists. The proposed consent decree does exactly this. The FTC should instead require that when an open safety recall with a remedy exists, the remedy must be performed before the car is sold at retail. A notice that an open recall for a safety issue exists next to a statement that the car has passed a rigorous safety inspection is a contradiction. The FTC should not authorize any car dealers to give consumers such contradictory information. Instead, the FTC at minimum should prohibit any dealer from advertising that a car is safe, has been repaired for safety issues, or subject to a rigorous inspection if the car is subject to an open recall for safety issue. A car subject to an open recall for a safety issue is never a car that has been repaired to be safe, and such a car can never pass a rigorous inspection. The common law of fraud prohibits misrepresentations, and in Virginia any deceptive practice is prohibited by the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA). The proposed consent decree would authorize the respondent to engage in fraud and to violate the VCPA by stating that an unsafe car is safe. The misrepresentation should simply be prohibited and is not cured by a contrary statement next to it. Dealers are very experienced are directing consumers to pay attention to selective parts of documents and thus consumers may never even see the contrary information. Furthermore, consumers should not be placed in the position of figuring out how to reconcile such contradictory information. Please work to keep the car industry from engaging in deceptive practices in the sale of unsafe cars and change the proposed consent decree accordingly.