Almost every used car for sale on a dealership lot needs to have an FTC buyer’s guide on it by law. But did you know that the FTC changed the format of the guide in November of 2016?
Here is an example of the old version vs new version of Buyers Guides:
As of January 28 of this year, every car lot in the country needs to be compliant with the new format. Now, take a walk around your lot and see how many of the old ones you see.
That’s exactly what the government does—the state agent will walk your lot and count the number of vehicles with missing or outdated buyer’s guides and then let you know after the count is already done. That means your vehicles need to be ready at all times because you might not get any warning that they’re on site! According to a recent article, from April to June of this year, the FTC and their partners recently conducted a compliance sweep in twenty cities to see how many dealers had switched to the newly required format. Inspectors visited 94 dealerships and found that only 15% were fully compliant with the new rules. Only 35% had the revised guide on more than half of their vehicles. Worse still, 30% of the 2300+ cars they looked at had no buyer’s guide at all. That means that right now, with the new rules in place, the FTC is taking compliance really seriously and some dealers weren’t even following the old rules. Some folks are making an easily avoidable mistake—avoidable and costly.
In June of 2015, an auto dealer in Arkansas settled on FTC charges to the tune of $90,000 for failing to properly display buyer’s guides. In September of that same year, it was reported that a dealer in Newark shelled out an astronomical $693,645.91 in fines for a range of violations that included misrepresenting information on buyer’s guides. With the new format in place, the penalties have gotten even steeper. According to the article on this spring’s compliance sweep, fines have been raised to a maximum of $41, 484 per violation. That means that if even three cars on your lot aren’t properly stickered, you could be looking at up to six figures going out the door. And there’s costs besides money: think of the time you’ll have to spend negotiating and dealing with state and federal agents, possibly in court, and the damage to your reputation when it’s reported that you broke the law. We can put a dollar figure on the civil penalties you’ll face, but that kind of damage to one’s brand can’t be calculated. The good news is that this isn’t a mistake you have to make—and we can help.
Xcite offers our customers a range of high-quality services related to buyer’s guides. First of all, ours are printed on a proprietary premium-sourced vinyl sticker that’s easy to place and peel off, and can be taken off and re-applied multiple times. That way, if you’ve got a customer who wants to test drive the car, you can simply take the sticker off the window and put it in the back seat to give them maximum visibility, then put in back in place once the car is back on the lot. Our material also doesn’t leave behind gunk, so your salesmen won’t have to waste time scraping off residue once you sell the car either. Nor will you risk scarring tinted windows. With our premium materials, getting buyer’s guides on your cars has never been easier. If you’re currently partnered with another vendor, we’re happy to sell you our materials directly.
But we can also offer much more than our premium buyer’s guide stickers. We can come in and do an audit of your lot to give you hard data on how many non-compliant vehicles you have on the lot this very moment, and then make sure we get everything appropriately merchandised. We also have contacts at the FTC, so we keep our finger on the pulse of developments, and we pass that expertise along to you. We look at the buyer’s guide as part of the process of getting a car front-line ready so that there’s not a single second where you’re at risk of getting dinged with a fine. Xcite’s personnel have a knowledge base about this topic that your in-house photographers may not. Once you contact us, we can help you manage your compliance and we can assume some of the risk.
If you’ve already heard from the government about compliance, or even if you’re just concerned, reach out to us right away. We can get you on track, and our proprietary materials make it easier than ever before to make sure you’re not losing time, money, and reputation on something that’s easily avoided. We also encourage you to check out the FTC guidelines, as well as all applicable state and local requirements as well, as some places have more stringent requirements than the federal government. I’ve put a link to the relevant FTC page below. We’re also happy to help you figure out what your local requirements might be, and to work with you to ensure that your dealership is operating in complete accordance with the law.