Deceptive car advertising will not be not tolerated, period. That is the strong message the Washington state Attorney General’s Office sent to car dealers Sound Ford of Renton and Evergreen Ford of Issaquah.
The AGO opened formal investigations after receiving consumer complaints that the dealerships had engaged in deceptive advertising practices.
Among other things, the AGO’s investigation found Sound Ford’s ads:
- used a font size that was too small to be read with reasonable ease;
- failed to disclose the number of vehicles available at the advertised price;
- failed to disclose the VIN number for vehicles for sale.
Among other things, the AGO investigation found Evergreen Ford’s ads:
- collected a documentary fee without clearly and conspicuously disclosing that the fee may be added to the sale price of the vehicle;
- offered to sell vehicles without fully disclosing credit requirements for a particular offer;
- failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose all terms, conditions and restrictions relating to who would be eligible for a rebate offer.
These practices do not comply with Unfair Motor Vehicle Practices Act (UFMVPA), a violation of the Consumer Protection Act.
After the AGO confronted Sound Ford and Evergreen Ford they agreed to enhance advertisement record keeping, ensure they comply with the UFMVPA, and will train staff to ensure they understand how to comply with the UFMVPA moving forward.
The AGO will continue to monitor car advertisements and pursue dealers who don’t play by the rules.
If you are aware of deceptive car advertisements, file a consumer complaint with the AGO here: http://atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx