Feds Host Roundtables, Launch Investigation Into Dealer Practices

March 17, 2011
Sleazy Car Salesman

Sleazy Car Salesman

With the price of a new car averaging more than $28,000 and the average dealer-sold used car running around $14,000, most vehicle shoppers opt to either finance or lease.

While dealer-arranged financing is certainly more convenient, it's not always fair, and it's not always straightforward. And certain types of dealerships have been discriminating against minorities, members of the armed forces, and military families—causing them to pay thousands of dollars extra over the long run, in return, in some cases, for kickbacks to the salesperson.

All this is of course forbidden by current laws, yet in many cases not enforced, says Consumer Reports.

And the situation didn't look poised to become better anytime soon. Last year as part of the financial regulatory overhaul bill, Congress decided not to hold auto dealers to the same stricter new rules as for other types of lenders, with the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Credit Bureau. Instead the FTC was given authority over vehicle financing issues.

But it appears that the FTC is being proactive. To address all this unhappiness, and to gather information on what's happening at the consumer and dealership level, the FTC is hosting a series of roundtables, all free to the public.

The first roundtable will be held at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit April 12. For more information on the roundtables, their locations, and how to register, see http://www.ftc.gov. In the meantime, the FTC also maintains a complaint assistant, or you may call 877-382-4357.

If you've been taken advantage of by one of these scams, or you feel that you weren't given the same deal as another customer, blow the whistle, show up, or at least pick up the phone. And let us know below: Should the states be doing more to enforce issues such as these?

[FTC, via Consumer Reports Cars Blog]

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