Are High Car Prices An Actual Crime? New FTC Rules

As we step into 2023, the new car market is experiencing a notable shift. While there is a surge in availability and some vehicles on dealership lots may not be marked up over MSRP, a recent report from our friends at Jalopnik raises questions about the genuineness of these seemingly attractive deals. This article delves into the intricacies of the new car market, revealing potential pitfalls and shedding light on the recent legal changes that might reshape how dealerships operate.

Unveiling Deceptive Pricing: The Jalopnik Insight

According to Jalopnik, not all new car deals advertised under MSRP are as good as they appear. The article cites examples, including a Volkswagen listing that initially seemed like a great deal. However, upon closer inspection, the fine print revealed that the price was contingent on a trade-in and financing through the dealership at a higher interest rate. Similar deceptive practices were found in other deals, where additional fees and add-ons were buried in the fine print.

Legal Winds of Change: The FTC Policy

As the automotive landscape evolves, so do the regulations governing dealership practices. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has introduced new rules, or rather, clarified existing ones, that could potentially make deceptive pricing tactics illegal. In a comprehensive 16-page document, the FTC outlines what constitutes unfair methods of competition in the motor vehicle marketplace.

Understanding the FTC Guidelines

The Jalopnik article highlights how misleading advertisements, even if later revealed to be inaccurate, can be considered illegal under the FTC rules. The focus is not solely on whether the consumer ultimately falls for the deceptive pricing but also on the harm caused by diverting attention from competitors. The document emphasizes the value of consumer time, acknowledging that purchasing a vehicle is not just expensive but also time-consuming.

The Dealership Dilemma: Misrepresentation and Unfair Practices

Delving into the Federal Register, the FTC specifies rules for motor vehicle dealers, aiming to prohibit misrepresentations during the sale, lease, or financing of vehicles. Dealerships are required to provide accurate pricing disclosures and are prohibited from selling add-on products or services that offer no benefit to the consumer. The rules aim to ensure transparency and prevent deceptive practices.

The Empowered Consumer: Leveraging FTC Rules

For consumers, this shift in regulations provides newfound leverage. By understanding and referencing these rules, buyers can demand transparent pricing and avoid falling victim to misleading advertisements. The FTC guidelines require dealers to disclose the true offering price of a vehicle, eliminating the potential for hidden fees and deceptive pricing tactics.

Taking Charge of Your Car Buying Experience

As a buyer, the key is to request written offering price disclosures from dealerships, ensuring that the advertised price aligns with the actual cost. This not only protects consumers from misleading deals but also empowers them to make informed decisions about where to invest their time and money.

Conclusion: A Fairer Future for Car Buyers

The evolving legal landscape signals a positive shift toward fairer practices in the automotive industry. Consumers now have the tools to demand transparent pricing and avoid falling victim to deceptive tactics. By staying informed and leveraging these regulations, car buyers can navigate the shifting market with confidence, ensuring a smoother and more equitable purchasing experience.

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