The dealers made misrepresentations in print, on the Internet, and in video advertisements that led consumers to believe they could purchase vehicles for low prices, finance vehicles with low monthly payments, or make no upfront payment to lease vehicles, according to the lawsuits. One dealer said consumers had won prizes they could collect at the dealership.
“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.”
Operation Steer Clear is an effort by the FTC to protect consumers in the auto marketplace.
The dealerships that settled the charges are:
Nissan of South Atlanta of Morrow, Ga.
Infiniti of Clarendon Hills of Clarendon Hills, Ill.
Paramount Kia of Hickory, N.C.
Southwest Kia companies, including New World Auto Imports, Dallas, Texas; New World Auto Imports of Rockwall, Rockwall, Texas; and Hampton Two Auto Corporations, Mesquite, Texas.
The orders settling the FTC’s charges in the nine cases are designed to prevent the dealerships from engaging in similar deceptive advertising practices in the future.
In addition, the FTC issued an administrative complaint against Courtesy Auto Group of Attleboro, Mass.