Crime

Dealerships Like This One Are Getting What They Deserve

Potential buyers beware: read the fine print (if you can).

Let this case be a lesson to car dealerships throughout the US: If you deceive customers you’re going to get caught and pay for it at some point. According to a report from Automotive News, Southwest Kia, which has three dealerships in the Dallas, Texas area, will now pay a $85,000 penalty in order to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission. What happened? The dealership violated a 2014 consent order to prevent it from partaking in deceptive advertising.

Back in 2014, Southwest Kia was one of nine dealerships that signed an order that barred it from any sort of deceptive advertising for 20 years. If they violated this, they could pay up to $16,000 per day. Well, these guys violated it. How so? Back in a July 2014 commercial, the dealer claimed buyers could get two cars, including a 2014 Optima, "for under $200 per month." Not at all true. "At no point did (Southwest Kia) state in the large text or the spoken script that the advertised monthly payments were not for the sale of the vehicles, but rather for leases bearing $1,999 down payments." Furthermore, the FTC claims this dealer made "widely disseminated advertisements" from when it signed the 2014 consent order and February 2015.

Those advertisements had difficult-to-read fine print containing vital financial disclosures. Here’s another example: "a $250 down payment for $250 per month." The white fine print at the bottom of the TV screen, stating the remaining terms of repayment and the finance charge expressed at an annual percentage rate, was shown for only about two seconds against a grey background, which no human eye can properly see. Everyone, this is a clear reminder that if something sounds too good to be true, then it is. Deception is everywhere.

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