Commission on the hunt for outdated used-car Buyer’s Guides 

Cannonball Run

A rag-tag gang of investigators from the FTC and 12 partner agencies swept across car dealerships in seven states between April and June 2018. Their mission: compliance. The teams were checking used cars for the latest version of the “Buyer’s Guide” window stickers that are required under the commission’s Used Car Rule. When filled out, the Buyer’s Guide provides helpful information for consumers on their possible used car purchase. According to the commission, the sweep encompassed 20 cities, 94 dealerships and more than 2,300 used cars.

The Takeaway

How did the dealerships fare? Meh. Seventy percent of the used cars on sale had Buyer’s Guides attached. Of that 70 percent, only half used properly updated Buyer’s Guides. And only 14 of the 94 dealers used the revised version on every used car they were selling.

The dealers had plenty of notice; The Used Car Rule was last revised in late 2016 and added several features to the Buyer’s Guide intended to clarify warranty and service information, specify vehicle defects and recalls, and provide Spanish-language support. Dealers were also provided with an extensive FAQ sheet from the commission in September 2017; the deadline for moving to the updated guide was January 2018. It may be just a sticker, but the fines for failing to comply are nothing to sneeze at: $41,000 in fines for each violation. It is unreported at this time whether Burt Reynolds, Jamie Farr or Adrienne Barbeau assisted in the FTC compliance sweep.

Businesses should be aware of regulatory developments that affect them, and they should create plans and processes to ensure compliance with new changes. These dealerships should have been well aware of the upcoming changes and been prepared to implement them in a timely manner. Companies should also be aware that regulators might be checking on their compliance.