Trillium Automobile Dealers Association

Serving the interest of Ontario New Car
and Truck Dealerships for over 100 years

A double standard for auto advertising

Sandy Liguori - Tada President 2011-2012

I received a letter from a Wheels reader, who posed a valid question: “Why do auto companies continue to print valuable information in mouse-sized print at the bottom of their ads? If this is a government regulation, why is this important information printed in a size which is often unreadable?”

The simple answer to your question is: I share your frustration.
On January 1, 2010, Ontario's new Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) came into force. The MVDA 2002 is a set of regulations and guidelines pertaining to contracts, disclosure, warranties and business practices for registered auto dealers in Ontario. All registered auto dealers are required to adhere to the MVDA 2002 regulations.

One change in the new law made “all-in” pricing mandatory. In other words, the price consumers saw in print ads would be the price they could expect to pay when visiting a dealership for purchasing a car.

The all-in price included all fees, PDI, freight, etc. The only amount of money the consumer could expect to pay outside of the “all-in” advertised price would be taxes. The Toronto Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) fully supports all-in pricing and believes it makes the car-buying experience much easier and allows more transparency for consumers.

However, when the MVDA came into effect, the Ontario government decided to exempt advertisements placed by auto manufacturers and auto brokers from the legislation. In other words, ads placed by manufacturers and brokers do not have to conform to “all-in” pricing. The TADA feels that all-in pricing should apply to everyone placing ads — not just some entities.

As a consequence, you have two sets of rules: one for registered dealers who are obligated to include administration fees in their ads; and one for manufacturers and auto brokers who are not.

This double standard has led to much confusion on the part of consumers.

For the past two years, the TADA has been asking the Ontario government to make all-in pricing applicable to all ads — no matter who placed them — to the benefit of consumers. If you agree that all-in pricing regulations should apply to all advertisements, feel free to send me an email. We'd like to hear from you.

Today, the retail car business is the most heavily regulated in Canada.

Every aspect of our operations — from the conversations we have with customers to the fine print that appears in sales contracts — is closely regulated to ensure that customers are treated fairly.

Last year, approximately 600,000 new vehicles were sold in Ontario. Of that figure, there might have been a few dozen serious complaints, which the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) and other regulatory bodies would have been quick to investigate and resolve.

Dealers are in the business of selling cars, but we're also in the business of keeping our customers happy. That's just good business.

We work hard to ensure that all sales and service transactions to go smoothly, and we want to treat our customers fairly so that they will do business with us again, and tell others to do the same.

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Trillium AutoDealers (@TADA_CA) May 23, 2018