What Do You Know About Dealer Advertising?
FOR MOST ONTARIO CAR BUYERS IT’S STILL A MYSTERY
Let’s start right off with a test – find out if your car-buying knowledge is stuck in first gear or on cruise control:
If a dealer’s advertisement includes a price for a car, which of the following is true?
- There are likely to be additional fees or charges that aren’t included in the advertised price.
- The advertised price must be “all-in”, the only extra charges will be for HST and licensing.
- There are no rules around dealer advertising; it’s buyer beware!
Well the answer is 2), and No; and there’s a 78 per cent chance you got the answers wrong. That’s because only 22 per cent of Ontarians know that if a dealer advertises a price for a vehicle, the price MUST be all-in.
SO … WHAT EXACTLY IS ALL-IN PRICING? Ontario’s advertising regulations for vehicle sales are very clear: if a dealer (new or used) advertises a price for a vehicle, that price MUST include ALL fees and charges the dealer intends to collect. This includes:
- PDI-PDE (pre-delivery inspection/expense)
- Administration (Admin) fee(s)
- Government levies (air tax, etc.)
- OMVIC fee ($5)
- Safety and e-test (unless the vehicle is being offered unfit and the ad contains the mandatory “Unfit Vehicle” statement)
- The cost of any products or services the dealer has pre- installed on the vehicle (e.g. nitrogen in tires, etching, etc.)
The only additional fees an Ontario dealer can charge are HST and licensing; and licensing in this case refers to the actual cost of vehicle registration and plates – it cannot include extra fees added by the dealer.
It is important to note however that vehicle manufacturers are not regulated by OMVIC — the province’s vehicle sales regulator — therefore, ads placed by manufacturers don’t have to comply with the all-in pricing laws.
That said, some manufacturers voluntarily comply with the all-in pricing provision and commendably provide transparency to you as a consumer.
ENFORCING THE LAW
“Dealer trade associations and the vast majority of dealers support all-in pricing, however OMVIC still finds the level of non-compliance by a minority of dealers concerning,” explained Terry O’Keefe, OMVIC Director of Communications. “If a dealer adds hidden fees that aren’t disclosed in the advertised price it’s unfair to the customer and it’s unfair to all those dealers who DO advertise all-in prices.”
That’s why the provincial regulator rigorously enforces the regulations related to all-in pricing — and all enforcement decisions are available to the public at omvic.ca. In one recent Discipline Decision listed, a Barriearea dealer was fined $12,000 for non-compliant advertising.
In an agreed statement of facts, the dealer acknowledged selling seven vehicles for more than the advertised prices.
“Taking enforcement action is obviously part of the job of a regulator,” noted O’Keefe. However OMVIC thinks compliance can also be improved via consumer awareness. “Education empowers consumers and helps them protect themselves from illegal advertising.” And in those rare instances that a consumer encounters a dealer trying to add fees that exceed the advertised price: “Let your feet do the talking”.
That may seem an unusual message from a regulator, but it’s actually the same message you’ll hear from the majority of dealers who comply with the regulations; a level playing field benefits consumers AND dealers alike.
So, now that you’re up to speed on vehicle advertising, lets shift gears to another topic and close with one more question?
When you sign a contract to buy a car from a registered dealer, there is:
• A 10 day cooling-off period
• A 48 hour cooling-off period
• A 24 hour cooling-off period
• No cooling-off period
• Don’t know
And the answer is … well you’ll have to wait for the June edition of ONtheGO — or if you’re really driven and aren’t fond of yellow lights, visit omvic.ca — you’ll find the answer there.