Whether buying a vacation, or a car — you have a right to transparency in advertising
On January 1st Ontario introduced new regulations that require travel agents to include all fees and charges in their advertised prices. The federal government did the same four years ago for advertisements placed by airlines — moves that will undoubtedly bring transparency to the travelling and vacationing hordes. All-in price advertising is fantastic for consumers — it prevents “sticker shock” and builds trust. It also creates a level playing field where less scrupulous sellers no longer have an unfair advantage over competitors whose advertised prices comply with the regulations.
And while these changes to the rules for travel agents and airlines are positive and consumer-friendly, they aren’t exactly novel. All-in price advertising has been the law for all Ontario car dealers for more than seven years! And yet, only 33 per cent of Ontario consumers know they are entitled to all-in pricing when buying a car; the other 67 percent are either uninformed or misinformed.
While compliance with the all-in price advertising laws has risen steadily since enactment in 2010, OMVIC, Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, still finds non-compliance by a minority of dealers. According to Terry O’Keefe, OMVIC Director of Communications and Education, this is not only unfair to consumers, it’s equally unfair to the majority of dealers who do include all fees in their advertised prices.
“Consumers have a right to all-in price advertising — so raising awareness of that right is a priority for OMVIC,” said O’Keefe. “Informed consumers are protected consumers; and if they encounter a dealer attempting to add fees, other than for HST and licensing, to an advertised price, they should know to walk away, shop elsewhere and report the dealer to OMVIC.”
HOW DOES ALL-IN PRICE ADVERTISING WORK?
When a dealer advertises a price for a vehicle (new or used), that price MUST include all fees or charges the dealer intends to collect. Examples include fees/charges for:
• PDI – PDE (pre-delivery inspection/expense)
• Administration (admin) fees
• Government levies (air tax, etc.)
• OMVIC fee ($10)
And, if a dealer intends to charge for products or services they have pre-installed on a vehicle, these costs MUST also be included in the advertised price of the vehicle. Examples include:
• Nitrogen/tire warranty/locking lug nuts
• Security products/services
By law, the only additional fees a dealer can charge are HST and licensing (the actual cost of vehicle registration and plates), unless the fee is for optional services or products the consumer has requested or agreed to purchase. These regulations apply equally to both new and used car dealers.
WHAT IS AN ADVERTISEMENT?
The all-in price advertising rules apply to all ads placed by, or on behalf of, a dealer. This includes advertisements:
• In print (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
• On the internet (dealer site, online marketplace site, etc.)
• On social media
• On radio or TV
• On signs (including those in or on a vehicle itself)
Important note: OMVIC does not regulate vehicle manufacturers; therefore advertisements placed by manufacturers do not have to comply with the all-in pricing rules. That said, some manufacturers voluntarily comply and commendably provide transparency to consumers.
So whether you’re booking an exotic travel getaway, or buying a vehicle for a cross- Canada road trip — understand that you have the right to all-in price advertising.
To learn more about your car-buying rights, visit omvic.ca.