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Public comments show overwhelming support for FTC car dealer rules

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The first week of public comments on the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rules for dealership advertising and finance and insurance offices saw the National Automobile Dealers Association and the American Financial Services Association ask for an extension.

The 60-day public comment window opened July 13, with comments due by Sept. 12. Both NADA and AFSA asked for at least another 120 days on top of that.

Several dozen comments came in during the first week, the vast majority in support of the FTC taking action. Some credited the Your Advocate Alliance vehicle shopping and consumer education company for encouraging them to comment.

Here are excerpts.

Dustin Ervin: “Sales [practices] constantly evolve in a competitive environment. Vehicle sales are among the most competitive environments out there. Furthermore, nothing could be less capitalistic than a rule such as this. There are already several laws covering every issue raised in the rule. This is an undue burden.”

Christopher Brown: “I have purchased a new car every few years since 1977, worked in two different car dealerships in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and have owned more than fifty different cars over the past fifty years. … Dealers are very creative in finding ways to increase their profits when selling to consumers, many of them are dishonest and predatory. The proposed regulations target the latest spate of these very well. The entire structure of a car dealership rewards their personnel for finding sneaky ways to increase profits when dealing with customers/consumers.”

Al Camp: “What are we waiting for? Show me one consumer that loves (likes, enjoys, considers it a positive experience) dealing with automobile dealers?”

JP Fowler: “There is no way to get the real price till you walk in the door or call and talk to them 3-4 times. It is like a second job you don’t get paid for.”

JD Tomlinson, Tomlinson Motor Co.: “I have been in the car business my entire adult life and my wife and I have owned and operated our current dealership for 25 years. … I would strongly support the regulations that you are considering. … Selling cars to the general public has been reduced to a contest of which dealership can effectively lie the best. In our current environment, even the most savvy customers are intentionally confused and deceived. It is a terribly unfriendly and unfair marketplace.”

Celia Winslow, American Financial Services Association: “Finance companies that take assignment of retail installment sales contracts and vehicle leases are reviewing the Rule with great concern.”

Richard Dunn: “I currently own a Tesla. One of the major reasons I bought a Tesla is so I would not have to deal with a dealership. I have been interested in a Ford Mach-E for a while but will not consider one because I will not deal with any dealership any more. You proposed rule covers many, but not all of the reasons.”

Anthony Ballato: “I am an attorney in private practice in NY representing consumers for 33 years. It never ceases to amaze me how car dealers defraud honest trusting consumers substantial sums of money through various common deceptive and fraudulent practices ranging from altering documents, concealing documents, having consumers sign blank documents, lying about the material terms of the deal, altering the prices, adding on other contracts or items never discussed and selling vehicles with undisclosed damages and defects.”

Shannon Harper, Harper Auto Square: “I am a second generation car dealer at our family owned and operated car dealership in Knoxville TN. … We will continue to serve our customers in east TN and across the country with our transparent approach. Unfortunately this bill does not address the concerns created by a handful of bad actors that will remain bad actors despite the laws. This creates additional complexity for the majority of dealerships which then adds costs and time delays to the customers. … With the amount of online reviews that exist in today’s world, the car dealer that regularly creates a negative sales experience will fail. … Please exercise caution with adding regulation to an industry already swamped with regulations because the family owned dealerships that create jobs and give back to their communities will eventually be squeezed out by the public groups that care only for their share price, not you the consumer.”

Brent Reynolds: “We’d put down a deposit on the car a couple of months earlier and agreed to the price at MSRP, but didn’t get everything in writing. Before the car arrived, I told the general manager I did not want them to add-on anything except window tinting. When the car arrived, they added ‘Nitrogen’ for $199 and ‘Ceramic coating’ for $999 in addition to $599 for the window tint. The general manager told me these were not optional, even though they were dealer installed after their receiving the car and I’d already said do not install them. He told me if I didn’t want the car with the installed options, he had many other customers waiting to buy a car and he was now adding a $1500 ‘Market Adjustment Fee’, so he’d make more if I didn’t buy it.”

Scott Neblett: “Not all dealers do these things but they’re already following the proposed rules. This needs to end. My only concern is if there will be appropriate and thorough enforcement as people will try to cheat.”

Ralph DiCecca: “Why is it that a dealership can advertise a lease monthly payment and never have a vehicle that qualifies for that amount.”

Chris Bailey: “It is a sad day when a regulation has to be created to simply force a business to truthfully advertise the price of their product. Show me the price, show me [fees] such as registration, state inspection, etc. [Then]show me things you would like to try and sell me. It really is simple. Just pretend it is a washing machine, how are those sold?”

Malcolm Stallons: “Anyone who says the consumer can take the time necessary to read and understand every word written into a sales contract has never gone through a closing at any dealership that I have. The F&I people will not allow you the time to read and understand every word. I once left the F&I office at a great local dealer and counted my fingers to make sure the F&I guy didn’t steal any of them, the experience was that bad. The dealership soon fired the guy. The guy was the problem, not the dealership.”

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