The difference between "puffing" and outright fraud can be a fine line when it comes to buying cars. But the brazen false advertising of a pair of Nevada car dealers has strained the Federal Trade Commission's patience to the breaking point. This week the FTC finalized a consent order against Las Vegas Nissan and Hyundai dealers for false advertising of discount prices and other terms in automotive sales and leases. The federal agency sent a strong message that if you want to play liar's dice, keep it in the casino. You can read more about the federal agency's consent order here
The important thing to realize is that these dealer practices are not unique. California car dealers also try to mix the terms of sales and leasing to make the deal look more attractive to the unwary consumer. Sales and leases of motor vehicles are very different financing arrangements. Leases can be easily structured to look cheaper, particularly with a lower monthly payment, when in fact they are rarely a better deal for the consumer overall.
The FTC was particularly critical of the use of fine print that the dealers were using to explain away or counter what appeared in large type. Similarly, in verbal advertisements on radio or TV the announcer's rapid patter becomes unintelligible to the listener, and is usually an effort to limit or restrict the offer that sounds like such a bargain.
In an article entitled "Are Car Ads Taking You For A Ride?" posted on its website, the Federal Trade Commission has a page of useful tips for buying or leasing cars. Bookmark this page to review before you respond to any ad or promotion - in print or TV or even online - if you are in the market for a new set of wheels.