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CATA Bulletin
January 25, 2010


In Memoriam

November 10, 2010

 Albert Johnson, who in 1967 became the first black new-car dealer for General Motors when he bought an Oldsmobile store in Chicago, died Jan. 13 at age 89.

Mr. Johnson began selling cars door to door near St. Louis because he wasn’t welcome on the dealership showfloor. He came to be known as "the man who sold cars from a briefcase."

In addition to Al Johnson Oldsmobile, Mr. Johnson opened Al Johnson Cadillac in the city.

He also was a leader in the effort to elect Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, and he helped Barack Obama’s early run for the state Senate.

Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife, Marion; and sons Albert Jr., Donald and Antoine; and six grandchildren.


River Oaks Ford dealer Hennessy works for juvenile diabetes cure

November 10, 2010

 By Alex Navrotski, CATA Communications Intern

John Hennessy of River Oaks Ford in Calumet City is leading a charge to make a major contribution to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. John and his family participate in the Lisle JDRF Walk every October as a part of team Left Eye, which raised more than $10,000 in 2009. Of the team’s contribution, more than half came from River Oaks Ford and its friends and vendors.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. Especially for children, the numerous painful finger pricks to monitor blood sugar; and the insulin shots required for treatment can be  unbearable.

"The amazing fact about JDRF" said Hennessy, "is over 80 percent of the money raised goes to finding a cure. I don’t know of any other foundation that does that."

John’s dedication and contribution caught the attention of Chicagoland Dealers Care, a Chicago Automobile Trade Association program that matches local car dealers’ charitable contributions.

Chicagoland Dealers Care matched the River Oaks Ford donation, contributing an additional $1500 to JDRF.

"We are impressed by the organization’s effectiveness and dedication to its mission," said CATA President Dave Sloan. "Supporting organizations of this caliber is precisely what our Chicagoland Dealers Care fund is all about," said CATA President Dave Sloan.

For news on other nonprofits helped by Chicagoland Dealers Care, see the Web site,


President\'s 2010 spending bill includes dealer rights provision

November 10, 2010

 By Ray Scarpelli Sr., Metro Chicago NADA Director

President Obama’s 2010 Spending Bill, which he signed in December, contains a provision granting certain GM and Chrysler dealerships and former dealerships the right to demand binding arbitration with GM or Chrysler to determine whether that manufacturer must be required to restore the dealership to the manufacturer’s dealer network.

Congressional passage of the bill and the subsequent signing by the president was the culmination of months of work by the NADA and other dealer groups to obtain a fair and meaningful arbitration process for affected dealers. The NADA praised members of Congress, including Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), for their efforts to gain a fair resolution for dealers.

"The NADA commends the Senate and House leaders who fought to keep the dealer rights amendment in the spending bill," the association issued in a statement. "The dealer rights provision will provide affected General Motors and Chrysler dealers and their respective automakers with a fair arbitration process to resolve ongoing concerns about recent dealership closures."

NADA Protects Auto Dealer Exclusion in House Financial Reform Bill

Led by the NADA’s strong grassroots efforts, auto dealers would be exempt from oversight by a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) under a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 11.

An amendment supported by the NADA and sponsored by Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), to exclude auto dealers from CFPA jurisdiction, gained broad, bipartisan support; while a separate amendment that would have included auto dealers under the jurisdiction of the CFPA was withdrawn by its sponsor, Rep. Mel Watt, (D-N.C.). The 1,279-page bill passed by a vote of 223-202.

To address concerns from Rep. Watt and other committee members, the NADA worked with Rep. Campbell to clarify the scope of the exemption. Under the bill, banks and finance companies that fund and service auto loans arranged by dealers for their customers would be regulated by the CFPA, including dealerships that operate "buy here, pay here" lots.

"It is quite clear that representatives on both sides of the aisle realized auto dealers were not part of the problem that caused the economic downturn," said David Westcott, chairman of the NADA’s Government Affairs Committee and a multi-franchise dealer from North Carolina. "Dealer-assisted financing is already effectively and efficiently regulated at both the federal and state levels."

The financial reform legislation will be considered by the Senate Banking Committee in early 2010.

In other legislative and regulatory news . . .

As part of a statutory mandate to develop a more understandable template for privacy notices issued by dealers and other financial institutions, the Federal Trade Commission and the federal banking regulatory agencies jointly issued a new model privacy notice that, effective Dec. 31, 2009, serves as a safe harbor for the language used in the notice for financial institutions that choose to adopt it.

Dealers who continue to provide their finance and lease customers with a privacy notice that uses language from the sample clauses contained in Appendix A to the text of the original Privacy Rule (which required compliance since 2001) will lose safe harbor protection for the language used in those notices after Dec. 31, 2010. Accordingly, dealers should consider transitioning to the new notices before the end of 2010. For more information, see the NADA’s announcement of this amendment to the FTC Privacy Rule at (click on "Search Regulatory Topics by Government Agency" and then click on "GLB Act: Privacy Rule" under Federal Trade Commission).

In NADA news . . .

• NADA Compensation Study 2009 mailed

This year’s guide contains two valuable additions: NADA Chief Economist Paul Taylor has significantly expanded the introductory analysis section to provide greater insight into the data; and an entirely new section is provided on pay plans. Employee compensation and benefits are among dealers’ most significant expenses, and a motivated and skilled staff is critical to dealers’ business success. The NADA Compensation Study 2009 serves as a resource to help dealers assess their situation and balance those needs.

• NADA Management Guides to be delivered online

With the February launch of NADA University, member publications no longer will be printed and mailed; they’ll be available online only at NADA University’s Resource Toolbox. The new, easier-to-use format provides an executive summary, electronic routing to staff, and online tracking to ensure the material was reviewed and understood. NADA University includes significant new training, resources, and technology—much of which will be provided free to NADA and ATD members and their staffs. We need current, correct email addresses in order to deliver this unprecedented new training and education resource. Be there when we launch NADA University!


Take a virtual walk through the 2010 Chicago Auto Show

November 10, 2010

 The Chicago Auto Show will make technology history in February by being the first auto show to provide a virtual experience for Internet visitors. Using NewStep’sWebWalk technology, visitors to will be able to get an in-depth glimpse at the different exhibits showcased at this year’s show.

Visitors can chose to walk forward, backward or sideways through an exhibitor’s space. WebWalk also provides the exhibitors with the ability to place content within each WebWalk for marketing purposes. For example, exhibitors can layer in advertisements, high-definition photographs, or attachments.

"The stars of any auto show are the cars and exhibits, and by utilizing new technologies like the WebWalk, the Chicago Auto Show can reach a larger audience and bring more value to its exhibitors," said John Phelan, the 2010 Chicago Auto Show chairman. "We’re very proud to be pioneering this technology and excited to be presenting a virtual walk through our show at"

On the surface WebWalk is a revolutionary technology tool. However, on the backend, WebWalk is a strategic business tool. WebWalk captures important user data and behavior trends that business can use to make go-to-market decisions. Companies are constantly looking to capture unique user data and provision key messages to users. WebWalk does both in an unobtrusive manner.

For more information on WebWalk please contact Megan Brown at


CATA office closed Feb. 5-21 for auto show

November 10, 2010

 The office of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association will close in Oakbrook Terrace Feb. 4 and not reopen till Feb. 22.

Far from taking a two-week cruise, the CATA staff will relocate to McCormick Place to produce the 2010 Chicago Auto Show.

Because the CATA office will be closed, association members must make the following adjustments:

• Dealership personnel responsible for securing any forms provided by the CATA—odometer statements, used-car buyer’s guides, used-car limited warranty statements, and emission control equipment statements—must place orders by Feb. 2 to ensure the orders can be processed by Feb. 4. Don’t be caught with an empty supply shelf.

• Use of meeting rooms at the CATA is suspended Feb. 4-22.

Calls to the CATA office will automatically be forwarded to CATA staff at McCormick Place.


Innovative texting program launched for Chicago Auto Show

November 10, 2010

 With more than 270 million mobile phones sending 100 billion texts in the United States alone, text messaging has become the preferred form of communication for millions of consumers.

Recognizing this shift in consumer behavior, the CATA has partnered with Text2Drive to harness the power of texting throughout this year’s Chicago Auto Show. The innovative Text2Drive platform will be used to grow attendance and increase attendee participation by raising awareness and creating a "buzz" around special events, featured vehicles and show promotions.

Text2Drive offers exhibitors a chance to opt in as well. By simply placing a sticker on the window of a vehicle on the show floor, exhibitors allow attendees to request more information on a vehicle. Instantly, that request returns information directly to the attendee’s phone. Pictures and links can be sent as well. Best of all, the request can be used by the exhibitor to continually communicate with the prospective customer.

"The best part about Text2Drive is that it provides multiple benefits to our attendees and exhibitors," said Dave Sloan, president of CATA. "Not only can we leverage this technology to help us promote the show and use it throughout the show for marketing, our exhibitors can use it to uniquely promote their brands."

In addition to the auto show campaign, the CATA has created an introductory Text2Drive program for dealer members. The program will roll out over the next few months and provide tools for the dealer’s Web site while incorporating the Text2Drive online mobile number collection widget on

If exhibitors would like more information on this innovative program, they should contact Tony French at


Consider \'adopting\' a school for next month\'s Chicago Auto Show

November 10, 2010

 Dealerships can plant a benevolent seed with students by sponsoring a school group’s visit to the 2010 Chicago Auto Show. The measure can be a community relations plum and establish customer loyalty with young consumers.

Under the Adopt-A-School Program, a dealership can purchase tickets at $5 each for students in a group. There is no minimum or maximum potential group size.

High schoolers at or near driving age are logical students for a dealership to pair itself with. There are hundreds and hundreds of high schools in the Chicago area, probably more than one within each dealer’s relevant market area.

In the program, dealers contact a school’s principal or assistant principal to arrange the weekday field trip. Wheeling dealer Bill Stasek has participated in the program for several years.

"The schools look forward to the auto show so much, and they wouldn’t be able to go without this program," Stasek said. "They really appreciate it, so it creates a lot of goodwill with the schools."

In the program, dealers contact a school’s principal or assistant principal to arrange the weekday field trip. Stasek met groups at McCormick Place and even popped for lunches for everyone.

Dealers interested in "adopting" a school should contact the Chicago Automobile Trade Association’s Donna Young for more details, at (630) 424-6045.


First Look for Charity to sparkle Feb. 11

November 10, 2010

 A redesigned 2010 Chevrolet Equinox—a great-looking compact crossover that delivers a best-in-segment EPA-estimated 32 mpg—is just $225 away for someone who attends this year’s First Look for Charity.

But everyone who attends will feel like a winner. The black-tie gala on Feb. 11, held the evening before the Chicago Auto Show opens its 10-day public run, directly benefits 18 important Chicago area charities. Last year, the event raised more nearly $2 million.

First Look for Charity, now in its 19th year, is a unique and elegant way to peruse the nation’s largest auto show before the throngs enter with their elbows aflyin’.

About 8,000 people are expected to attend First Look for Charity, a fraction compared to an average daily attendance during the show’s public days. First Look attendees are treated to a wide variety of hors d’oeuvres; champagne, wine, beer and soft drinks.

Tickets are $225 each and can be ordered at or by calling (708) 237-6444. For corporate packages, call the CATA’s Erik Higgins at (630) 424-6008.

Purchasers can designate their ticket proceeds to benefit any or all of the participating charities. Benefiting charities this year include Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital; Autism Speaks; Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago; Campagna Academy; and Cancer Health Alliance of Metropolitan Chicago.

Also, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet; Children’s Memorial Hospital; Clearbrook; Evans Scholars Foundation; Franciscan Community Benefit Services; and Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities.

And, Misericordia Heart of Mercy; Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago; Spina Bifida Association of Illinois; St. Coletta’s of Illinois Foundation; St. James Hospital & Health Centers; and the Jesse White Tumbling Team.

The Equinox is compliments of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Chevy dealers. Vehicle winner must be present.


Final risk-based pricing rule released by FTC, Federal Reserve

November 10, 2010

 Sweeping rules that generally apply to dealers who obtain a consumer’s credit report and then enter into a credit transaction with that consumer have been finalized. The long-awaited Final Risk-Based Pricing Rule, constructed jointly by the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Trade Commission, takes effect in 2011.

Risk-Based Pricing refers to the practice of setting or adjusting the price and other terms of credit provided to a particular consumer based on the consumer’s creditworthiness.

The final FTC/FRB Rule provides creditors with several methods for determining which consumers must receive Risk-Based Pricing Notices (RBPN).

As an alternative to providing risk-based pricing notices, the final Rules permit creditors to provide consumers who apply for credit with a free credit score and information about their score. Today, most consumers must pay a fee to obtain their credit score.

The new rule generally applies to creditors that engage in risk-based pricing and use a credit report to set the terms on which credit is extended to consumers. The rule does not apply to extensions of business credit or to lease transactions.

Dealers and other creditors who use credit reports will have to deliver a RBPN to consumers whom the dealer will extend credit but on "material terms that are materially less favorable than the most favorable terms available to a substantial proportion of consumers from or through that person."

The National Automobile Dealers Association has pledged to disseminate a comprehensive summary of the new rule later this year.

The new Risk-Based Pricing Rule is the latest duty mandated by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. Also, the RBPN requirement is entirely separate from the new Model Privacy Notice that the FTC and the federal banking regulatory agencies issued recently under the FTC Privacy Rule.

The RBPN requirement is intended to improve the accuracy of credit reports by alerting consumers whose credit applications have been approved (but generally on less favorable terms) to the existence of negative information in their credit reports which they can check for accuracy and, if warranted, challenge.

This is meant to "complement" the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s adverse action notice requirement, which requires creditors who deny a consumer’s credit application based in whole or part on information in a credit report to provide information about credit reports to those consumers.

Because of the difficulty in determining which customers fit into this ill-defined category, NADA recommended—and the agencies adopted—an Exception Notice that dealers and other creditors may issue in lieu of the RBPN.

The criteria for using the Exception Notice and other elements of the Risk-Based Pricing Rule and associated model forms are in the 202-page final rule,


1 Ruffino, 2 Ruffino

November 10, 2010

 Man convicted of theft said he didn\'t approach Elgin dealer

An Addison man contends he was not the Nicholas Ruffino who offered an Elgin dealer a faulty telephone number and then angled for a spot delivery, as described in the Jan. 11 edition of this newsletter.

Nicholas Ruffino, 32, of Addison, was convicted last month of theft stemming from a 2008 transaction at a Barrington dealership. He describes himself as 5 feet 7 inches tall and about 285 pounds.  But Ruffino said he never approached the Elgin dealer in late December.

"I didn’t do that. I learned my lesson," he said.

The Elgin dealer said the Nicholas Ruffino he encountered never visited the store, instead limiting correspondence to e-mail. The prefix of the address isnicholasruffino.

"He states that he works off his Blackberry and is in meetings all day and that e-mail works best for him, so he avoids giving a phone number," the Elgin dealer said. "We did press him and finally got a phone number; it was bad.

"He also stated that he is closing on a property, so he can’t put the vehicle on contract, but he plans on paying cash. His business manager is writing a check for the entire amount.

He then suggested spotting the vehicle to him on a promissory note."

The Elgin dealer stopped the deal. But Nicholas Ruffino of Addison said he worries that he will have difficulty working a deal when he decides to trade in his current car. When the Elgin dealer entered Ruffino’s name in an Internet search, a 2008 article from the CATA Bulletin surfaced, reporting his actions then.

"I’m not the person I was in 2008," Ruffino said Wednesday. "It’s not going to happen again."