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SmartBuy ads cross rebate line: AG

November 17, 2010

The way some Illinois GM dealers and their advertisers depict pricing for SmartBuy vehicles, a General Motors program, violates the state’s rule on motor vehicle advertising, according to the Illinois attorney general’s office.


The Better Business Bureau’s Chicago office, which scours area dealers’ print and electronic ads for compliance with the state rules, concluded that presenting aSmartBuy price as a new vehicle’s advertised price, or as a separate price in the ad, violates the rules concerning limited rebates.


"The AG agrees with this interpretation, saying that the SmartBuy price cannot be advertised as the price of the car because it includes a rebate that is not available to all consumers," said Steve Bernas, president of the BBB-Chicago office. "Not every consumer will qualify for the SmartBuy program, and other consumers may prefer to pay cash or finance the purchase in another way. Those consumers will not get the benefit in the price of the SmartBuy rebate.


"Therefore, while the SmartBuy pricing may be a good deal for some buyers, the advertisement of a SmartBuy price as the price of the car violates the rules."  


Bernas said the BBB would comment more on its interpretation by mid-January. Dealers or advertisers with questions or concerns can write or call Bernas at 312-245-2514.