volkswagen dealer

Dealerships’ selling practice could face FTC crackdown

Volkswagen dealership, Florida [Source: Boast Volkswagen]

The Federal Trade Commission has announced possible new regulations to crack down on dealerships and their selling practices.

According to Automoblog, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received so many complaints about dealership selling practices that it has put forward new regulations that could dramatically improve the buying process. Sadly, some believe these new regulations don’t go far enough, and automakers may have to step in and enforce more stringent and effective rules.

The regulations put forward by the FTC are fourfold, and they affect pricing, fees, “add-ons,” and advertising.

The first proposed regulation is vehicle price; dealers would be forced to disclose the total purchase price upfront. The following two regulations regard fees and “add-ons”; dealers would not be allowed to have hidden fees or mandatory add-ons, and valueless add-ons/junk fees would also not be allowed. Finally, the FTC would more stringently regulate dealerships’ advertising; “bait and switch” advertising would no longer be allowed.

These possible regulations came after the FTC settled with Tate Auto Group of Arizona and New Mexico. The dealership allegedly used deceptive advertising, hidden monthly fees within financing, and lied to lenders about customer incomes to raise nearly a half million dollars in fraudulent charges. The FTC is currently in the process of returning money to those affected.

Sadly, these new regulations do little to regulate dealer markups that dealers have become infamous for. This indicates that more leg work may need to be done by vehicle manufacturers to help keep dealers in line and prevent poor customer experiences.

Ford has recently announced that it would be doing just that. After a meeting with dealers earlier this week, dealers that wish to participate in Ford’s electric future will need to change price structures (new, no-haggle pricing), inventory amounts, and even the charging infrastructure offered on their premises.

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Dealerships’ selling practice could face FTC crackdown
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