PhotoWe've all seen the ads promising great deals on new cars -- low monthly loan payments, leases with no money down and other extravagant claims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) saw the ads too and didn't like them.

“Buying or leasing a car is a big deal, and car ads are an important source of information for serious shoppers,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Dealers’ ads need to spell out costs and other important terms customers can count on. If they don’t, dealers can count on the FTC to take action.”

Rich made the comment as the FTC announced that nine auto dealers have agreed to settle deceptive advertising charges, and the agency is taking action against a 10th dealer, in a nationwide sweep focusing on the sale, financing, and leasing of motor vehicles.

According to the complaints, the dealers made a variety of misrepresentations in print, Internet, and video advertisements that falsely led consumers to believe they could purchase vehicles for low prices, finance vehicles with low monthly payments, and/or make no upfront payment to lease vehicles. One dealer even misrepresented that consumers had won prizes they could collect at the dealership.

The dealerships that settled are: 

California

Casino Auto Sales of La Puente, Calif., and Rainbow Auto Sales, of South Gate, Calif., allegedly violated the FTC Act by deceptively advertising that consumers could purchase vehicles at specific low prices when, in fact, the price was $5,000 higher. Both dealers’ ads involved a mix of English and Spanish. 

Honda of Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Norm Reeves Honda of Cerritos, Calif., violated the FTC Act by deceptively advertising that consumers could pay $0 up-front to lease a vehicle when, in fact, the advertised amounts excluded substantial fees and other amounts. 

Georgia

Nissan of South Atlanta of Morrow, Ga., allegedly violated the FTC Act by deceptively advertising that consumers could finance a vehicle purchase with low monthly payments when, in fact, the payments were temporary “teasers” after which consumers would owe a different amount. 

Illinois

Infiniti of Clarendon Hills of Clarendon Hills, Ill., allegedly violated the FTC Act by deceptively advertising that consumers could pay $0 up-front to lease a vehicle when, in fact, the advertised amounts excluded substantial fees and other amounts. 

North Carolina

Paramount Kia of Hickory, N.C., allegedly violated the FTC Act by deceptively advertising that consumers could finance a purchase with low monthly payments when, in fact, the payments were temporary “teasers” after which the consumer would owe a much higher amount, by several hundred dollars. 

Michigan

Fowlerville Ford of Fowlerville, Mich., allegedly violated the FTC Act by sending mailers that deceptively claimed consumers had won a sweepstakes prize, when, in fact, they had not. 

Texas

Southwest Kia companies, including New World Auto Imports, Dallas, Texas, New World Auto Imports of Rockwall, Rockwall, Texas, and Hampton Two Auto Corporations, Mesquite, Texas, allegedly violated the FTC Act by deceptively advertising that consumers could purchase a vehicle for specific low monthly payments when, in fact, consumers would owe a final balloon payment of over $10,000. The companies also allegedly deceptively advertised that consumers could drive home a vehicle for specific low up-front amounts and low monthly payments when, in fact, the deal was a lease and they would owe substantially more up-front. 

The proposed consent orders settling the FTC’s charges in the nine cases are designed to prevent the dealerships from engaging in similar deceptive advertising practices in the future.


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