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Latest dealer advertising infractions reviewed

June 28, 2019
What do lifetime warranties, tires, oil changes and even car washes touted in vehicle ads have in common? They all are something of value and therefore considered by the Illinois Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations to be gifts, and thus cannot be offered.
The infraction was one of the most common seen by the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and northern Illinois, BBB representatives said at a June seminar at the CATA. The BBB monitors dealer advertising and acts as sort of a buffer between dealers and the Illinois attorney general’s office, although that office has complete and independent authority to handle all matters as it sees fit in light of enforcement priorities and resources.
Other blunders seen: "Consult dealer for actual price" and "Price does not include destination charges." According to the regulations, only taxes, license and title fees, and the documentary service fee can be excluded from the advertised selling price. And that vehicle’s advertised price must be the same across all media; there can be no special "internet pricing," for instance.
Indeed, improperly portraying a vehicle’s advertised price became such a common infraction that the CATA’s board of directors in 2014 authorized the BBB to treat it as one of five "Zero Tolerance" sins, conduct which the BBB refers to the AG’s office for appropriate enforcement.
Another common infraction: identifying a number of limited rebates available, but for which not all consumers might qualify, and then deducting those rebates from the vehicle’s selling price. It is OK to list them, said BBB Senior Counsel Patricia Kelly, but "to do the math is taking it one step too far."