Advertising Compliance - Greater Cincinnati Automobile Dealers Association

Advertising Compliance

  DRIVEN: NADA Dealer Guide to Federal Advertising Requirements  
Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act Lease Ad Disclosures Ad Rules
Regulation M Regulation Z Ohio Guidelines for Motor Vehicle Advertising
  FTC Guidelines to Internet Disclosures  

FTC Announces Sweep Against 10 Auto Dealers, ‘Operation Steer Clear’
Drives Home That Auto Ads Must Be Truthful

FTC Takes Action Against Two Auto Dealership Chains For Violating 2012
Orders Prohibiting Deceptive Advertising of Vehicle Costs

What Dealers Need to Know

GCADA is committed to working with and assisting our members better understand the rules associated with advertising compliance.  This page helps provide guidance to more easily understand both federal and state advertising regulations.

An advertisement is any electronic, written, visual, or oral communication made to a consumer by any personal representation, newspaper, magazine, circular, billboard, direct mailing, sign, radio, television, telephone, internet, email, electronic or other form of communication that represents the features or price of any automobile offered for sale or the terms relating to the offer of sale, including credit or lease terms.

The Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act section explains the advertisement and sales of motor vehicles as well as the Ohio Attorney General’s Advertising Guidelines which interprets these rules.  We have also included Reg. Z and Reg. M, which regulate disclosures needed when advertising purchase and lease offers.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Ohio Attorney General’s Office remain vigilant regarding enforcement. Please see the links to news releases above regarding previous enforcement campaigns.

Further examples of the rules are:

    1. According to Reg Z, when a triggering term is used in an advertisement the following disclosures must be clearly and conspicuously included: EXAMPLES
      1. The fact that it is a lease.
      2. The TOTAL AMOUNT DUE AT LEASE INCEPTION, which must include any cap cost reduction (down payment, rebates and incentives), 1st payment, security deposit and bank acquisition fee.

TIP – Think of the amount due at inception as the amount the customer will
write the check for (plus tax, title, license and documentary fees).

      1. The term (in months) or number of payments.
      2. If the lease is open-ended, it must be stated.
      3. Any end-of-lease liability (mileage, overage charge, disposition fee).
    1. According to Reg M, when a triggering term is used in an advertisement, the following disclosures must be clearly and conspicuously included: EXAMPLES
      1. The amount of any down payment, including “no money down.”
      2. APR (must also state, “with approved credit”).
      3. The term (in months) or number of payments.
    1. Clear and Conspicuous (The 4-P’s) Inclusion of Disclosures
      1. Prominence – Is it big enough for consumers to notice and read?
      2. Presentation – Is the wording and format easy for consumers to understand?
      3. Placement – Is the information where consumers will look?
      4. Proximity – Is the information near the claim it qualifies?
    1. Advertising Limited Rebates: EXAMPLES
      1. Limited rebates can be advertised in prices, payments, savings and amounts due at lease inception, and include financing incentives, lease loyalty, Conquest, college grad, military AARP, etc.
      2. If your advertised price, payment, savings or amount due at signing includes any limited rebates you must “DO THE MATH.”  You must show the limited rebates, their amount and any requirements that must be met to receive the limited rebate.  This information must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
      3. If you advertise a price or payment that includes limited rebates, you must also clearly and conspicuously show the price or payment available to all consumers with the same prominence (color, size, font, position).
    1. Advertised Minimum Price For a Trade-in
      1. You cannot, “giveth an offer, then taketh away.”  If you advertise “$4000 for your trade” you must give the consumer $4000 with no deductions for mileage, condition, age, etc.  A disclosure does not meet compliance on this.
    1. “All Available Rebates and Incentives Included”
      1. “Do the math” is still the rule but is not currently a point of enforcement by the Ohio AG’s office.  You may advertise a price or payment without disclosing each individual offer (including dealer discount) provided it does not include limited rebates.
    1. Internet advertising is judged by the same standards as all other media.
      1. The FTC is targeting Reg M and Reg Z violations.  They can access your website at any time right from their desks.  If your internet ad contains violations you may be hit with a big fine.
      2. It does not matter whether your ad appears on your website or someone else’s.  It must comply.
    1. The AG’s Consumer Protection Section actively monitors Craig’s List.
      1. Watermark your photos to protect yourself from fraud.
    1. You can give away gift cards provided you don’t increase the price of the vehicle or add-ons to recoup the value from the customer.
    1. Social Media and Advertising Compliance
      1. The same rules apply!!
      2. Testimonials and photos require consent of the individual.
    1. Text messages are considered phone calls.  Be sure to check the Do Not Call list to verify the individual is not registered before you send that text.
    1. Substantiation of Claims
      1. If you are #1 in Customer Satisfaction, make sure you are able to prove it, in writing to any customer who asks for proof.