How to Read a Car Ad - Part 3
Published Wednesday, 09 May, 2012 by Blaine Plester.
How to Read a Car Ad Part 3
According to Bob Hamilton, the Executive Director of the Alberta Motor Vehicle Council (AMVIC),
Edmonton has more dollars spent on automotive print advertising per
capita than any other city in North America. Anybody that has read
either of the two daily papers wouldn?t be surprised. Car advertising is
big business and with that sort of competition the odds of unfair ad
practices increases. AMVIC is the body that regulates and enforces
automotive advertising in Alberta. As published on AMVIC?s web site, there are several criteria that are often not correct in advertisements:
1. The name of the business placing the advertisement must be conspicuous.
2. Whenever a payment is displayed the following have to be included in an example:
a. Total Cash price ($20,000)
b. Annual Percentage Rate (8%)
c. Length of term (48 months)
d. Total cost of financing ($6,400)
3. All costs except GST must be included in the advertised price.
4. The cash price, not the payment, must be predominant.
5. Pictures of vehicles must have stock numbers and that vehicle must be available at the time the advertisement is placed.
6. The font size of any disclaimers must not be any smaller than 8 points.
The most common violation is with #3 ? not including everything but GST in the advertised price. This means anytime you read about any kind of additional ?fees? that the ad does not comply. Now keep in mind that these may be legitimate fees. They can include everything from freight charges, PDI, or administration fees. They just have to be included in the advertised price. If you read an ad where the small print says anything like, "Prices do not include $XXX fee," the ad is in violation of Advertising Code of Conduct as found in the Automotive Business Regulation.
Another similar tactic that crops up from time to time is where a dealer will add physical accessories like pinstripes or mudflaps but not include them in the advertised price. Again, the advertised price must include everything except GST and certain charges associated with financing.
Another one to keep an eye on is #5. The presence of a stock number indicates that the ad applies to a specific vehicle. It used to be much more common but still pops up from time to time these days where a picture of a top of the line model is shown along with the base model price. This is definitely an unfair practice if done deliberately. Also, please note that #5 requires the vehicle must be available at the time the ad is placed. There are times when newspaper deadlines require that ad copy be submitted days before an ad runs. Sometimes a customer will call on a car the first day it is advertised only to be told it has been sold. They may understandably feel upset and wonder if the car ever existed. But if the ad was ordered on Tuesday, the car sold on Wednesday, and the ad came out on Thursday, it?s easy to see how this may happen. Of course, that explanation doesn?t hold much water if the same ad is seen running for days afterward.I was once told by an AMVIC official that the only people that ever complain about car ads are other salesmen. This may be because as part of their licensing requirements, they are educated on what is and isn?t allowed. Hopefully the information in this post has been helpful in educating consumers about what is and what isn?t acceptable advertising practices. If you come across an ad that you feel goes against the points listed above, I would suggest first calling the dealership?s Sales Manager to point out the concern. If you do not receive a satisfactory response, you may want to contact AMVIC directly.