Nine auto dealers agreed to settle charges of alleged deceptive advertising, the Federal Trade Commission announced in a conference call and press release Thursday. Action is currently being taken with a tenth dealership.
The nationwide sweep, Operation Steer Clear, found dealers made a variety of misrepresentations in advertisements, violating the FTC Act by falsely leading consumers to believe they could purchase or lease vehicles for much lower prices.
Orders from the settlement prohibit the dealerships from misrepresenting in any advertisement for the purchase, financing, or leasing of motor vehicles the cost of leasing a vehicle, the cost of purchasing a vehicle with financing, or any other material fact about the price, sale, financing, or leasing of a vehicle.
“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.”
The FTC announced similar deceptive advertising charges against a Cleveland Ford dealership in September.
You can check out the FTC’s announcement for a list of businesses that are included in the settlements.