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BBB seeing dealer ad infractions

March 2, 2012
The Chicago office of the Better Business Bureau, which examines local dealer advertising under the BBB-CATA Advertising Review Program, reports seeing recent advertisements in which different fees or costs to consumers are being deducted wrongly from the advertised prices of automobiles. The BBB contends advertised prices were reduced by excluding specific down-payment amounts, specific trade-in amounts, freight charges and simply “other fees.”
The omissions are an infraction of Rule 475.310 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations, which states that the advertised price of a motor vehicle must include all costs to the purchaser that are necessary or usual prior to delivery including delivery charges, dealer preparation and any other charges of any nature.
Taxes, license, title and a documentary service fee can be deducted from the advertised price as long as the advertisement clearly discloses that those fees are excluded from the advertised price.
Patricia Kelly, the BBB’s senior counsel, said: “We want to remind dealers and their advertising agencies that the only amounts that can legally be deducted from the advertised price are taxes, a license fee, a title fee and a documentary service fee.  Any other amounts are illegal attempts to lower the advertised prices of automobiles as compared to the prices being offered by competing dealers.” 
Kelly added: “The goal of the BBB-CATA advertising review program is to level the playing field in fairness to all dealers so that all can fairly compete.  The current economic temperature makes that goal even more important. 
“The BBB wants to ensure that all dealers are adhering to truthful and honest principles in the advertisement of automobiles.  With that goal in mind the BBB reminds all dealers to carefully examine their advertisements to ensure that only the amounts set out in Rule 475.310 are deducted from the advertised prices.”