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CATA Bulletin
January 20, 2014

 

Area dealership among 9 across country caught in FTC sweep

January 17, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission announced Jan. 9 that it had settled deceptive advertising charges against nine dealerships, including one in Clarendon Hills, in a nationwide sweep focusing on the sale, financing, and leasing of motor vehicles.
The sweep, dubbed Operation Steer Clear, identified practices that included sweepstakes in which no prizes were awarded, "no down payment" lease deals, and loans with payments that start low and then grow.
"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."
In the consent orders to settle their cases, the nine dealerships in six states are barred for 20 years from violating the consumer protection laws they were accused of breaking, as well as misrepresenting information on the sale, financing or lease of motor vehicles. Future violations could result in fines of $16,000 per violation per day.
Rich said the FTC is taking similar action against a 10th dealership. "We have many other investigations in the pipeline," she said. "This is a priority for the FTC and you will see many other cases in the auto-related area going forward.
"There are many dealers who are honorable and want to treat their customers well, but we believe there are many more dealers out there who are involved in these deceptive practices."
Infiniti of Clarendon Hills 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. The ads also allegedly violated the Consumer Lending Act and Regulation M, by failing to disclose certain lease-related terms.
A lawyer who said he represents hundreds of auto dealers, though none of those named in the FTC case, said he thinks dealers could have steered clear of trouble if they had made sure that the fine print at the bottom of their ads fully disclosed what was being advertised.
Since at least one of the dealers had a state action pending against it, attorney Alex Kurkin said it makes him wonder if the FTC is going to get more deeply involved with auto dealer practices.
"It suggests to me that federal government feels an obligation to dive into this industry," Kurkin said.
 
 

Dec. 31 makes car sales history

January 17, 2014

Car buyers took to showrooms en masse Dec. 31, 2013, and by day’s end made it the second-busiest day ever for car sales, according to J.D. Power.
Dealers sold 117,985 vehicles on the last day of last year. That is surpassed only by the 123,212 cars sold on July 7, 2005.
Last year also logged the third-busiest car sales day ever, when dealers sold 116,329 vehicles on Aug. 31.
 
 

Businesses can ban weapons, even as concealed carry law takes effect

January 17, 2014

The longtime absence of a concealed carry law in Illinois helped lead to nearly 10,000 Chicago-area residents applying for licenses in the first days since the new law took effect Jan. 1. No permits have been issued yet.
The law making Illinois the last state in the nation to allow people to carry concealed weapons requires 16 hours of training by a licensed instructor. Lombard concealed carry instructor Ed Bryant, a pastor at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, said he has "all the students he can handle" right now for training required for concealed carry permits.
Business owners can elect to forbid firearms from their premises, but only after posting an Illinois State Police approved sign, in accordance with the Firearm Concealed Carry Act. Refer to Section 65 (Prohibited Areas) of the act for more information on statutory requirements for signage as well as where concealed weapons are prohibited.
 
The 4-by-6 sign is available for download at https://ccl4illinois.com/ccw/Public/Signage.aspx.
Concealed carry licensees who are denied from taking their firearm into the building still can have it in their cars, but only if the handgun is stored in a case within a locked vehicle or locked container out of plain view.
If a business owner or employer wants to prohibit only employees from carrying in the workplace, they should not post the required sign, as doing so makes the location a prohibited place. Rather, the matter should be addressed through appropriate employment policies.
Under the state act, "handgun" does not include shotguns or short-barreled rifles, or stun guns or tasers.
As applications for concealed carry permits continue to pour into Illinois authorities, officials are expressing concerns over background check requirements, new databases are being created, and lawmakers already are attempting to tweak and change the law.
The Illinois State Police is receiving more than 1,000 applications a day for the concealed carry license. That flood of applications is sparking concern, as police departments across the state are worried the demand may mean they are unable to effectively screen out applicants with a history of violence or mental illness.
The Cook County Sheriff’s office reportedly already has identified about 120 applications it plans to contest since the online application process was opened to most state residents Jan. 5. 
Chicago Police Department officials, locked in a battle to control high-profile gang violence, said they, too, are worried about keeping up with the flood of applications, while downstate sheriff’s departments said they might not have the capacity to meet the new law’s vetting requirement in the time allowed.
The problem is, in part, that while the new law that requires background checks, local law enforcement agencies were not given any additional money.
 
 

Materials shipped for auto show, 2014 concerns

January 17, 2014

All members of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association in good standing were sent materials Jan. 3 to help them get through the coming year and to help publicize the Chicago Auto Show, Feb. 8-17 at McCormick Place. It’s your show; please promote it.
Packages sent via United Parcel Service to dealer principals and company presidents include the following:
• 1 CATA-member 2014 window decal;
• 1 form to photocopy to order free supplies of odometer statements, used-car buyer’s guides, used-car limited warranty statements, and emission control equipment statements.
Also, to promote the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, the shipment includes:
• 4 Chicago Auto Show easel cards;
• 2 Chicago Auto Show posters;
• 1 First Look for Charity poster;
• 2 Honored Guest tickets good for repeated admission throughout the auto show;
• 50 Employee Appreciation Day admission tickets, valid once Feb. 10-14 and Feb. 17; and
• 200 discounted admission vouchers to offer to customers.
Don’t forget to purchase additional admission tickets to the auto show as well as any First Look for Charity tickets.
The UPS shipment began reaching members Jan. 6. Any member who has not received a package should notify the CATA. The shipments are trackable, to help resolve problems.
 
 

Consider 'adopting' a school to attend 2014 auto show

January 17, 2014

Dealerships can plant a benevolent seed with students by sponsoring a school group’s visit to the 2014 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 dealer can purchase tickets at $6 each for students in a group. There is no minimum or maximum potential group size, and accompanying chaperones are admitted free. 
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. 
Bill Stasek, proprietor of Bill Stasek Chevrolet in Wheeling, last year sponsored more than 100 students each from nearby Buffalo Grove High School, John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, and Vanguard School in Wheeling. A
"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 the groups at McCormick Place and even popped for lunches for everyone.
Dealers interested in "adopting" a school should contact the CATA’s Donna Young for more details, at (630) 424-6045.