Our office successfully represented a local consumer against a West Georgia area auto dealer in which the dealer had placed a window sticker on the car representing that the car had a remaining factory warranty. After the consumer discovered problems with the car, she sought warranty work on the car. She was informed that the car warranty was voided. She confronted the dealer who pulled out of the dealer file on the sale a window sticker which had the “AS IS” block checked. They told her the dealer made no representation that the car had a warranty. We have found that it is not at all uncommon for dealers to take the car for “cleanup” after the purchase decision is made. During this “cleanup” the dealer removes the window sticker affixed to the window which includes the representation. The dealer then had the customer sign a window sticker with the “AS IS” block checked. Our client was fortunate enough to have retained her window sticker.
The Federal Trade Commission enacted the FTC Buyer’s Guide Regulations which require that each used car offered for sale contain prominently and conspicuously on the vehicle so that both sides are readily readable, A “Buyer’s Guide”, also known as a window sticker. The Buyer’s Guide must include:
- The vehicle make, model, year and Vehicle Identification Number;
- The name and address of the dealer;
- A description of the meaning of “as is”;
- A clear disclosure of any warranty coverage and the terms and conditions of any warranty coverage. 16 C.F.R. § 455.2.
If the car is not covered by any warranty, either express or implied, the dealer must check the block labeled “AS-IS-NO WARRANTY.” If the car is covered by a written warranty, the dealer must check the box labeled “WARRANTY.”
The FTC Used Car Rule states that it is deceptive for a used car dealer to:
- misrepresent the mechanical condition of a used vehicle; or,
- misrepresent the terms of a warranty offered in connection with the sale of a used vehicle; or,
- represent the used vehicle is sold with a warranty when the vehicle is sold without a warranty; or,
- fail to disclose, prior to sale, that a used vehicle is sold without a warranty; or,
- fail to make available, prior to sale, the terms of any written warranty applicable to the used vehicle. 16 C.F.R. §455.1.
In our case we established for the satisfaction of the jury that the dealer had violated this rule by attempting to use two different window stickers, the very confusion the Rule was designed to prevent. The jury returned a significant verdict against the dealer including punitive damages because the jury found that the dealer had intentionally attempted to deceive the consumer client.
Learn more about window sticker fraud.