Highlights turn out to be lowlights

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

Oops. It turns out that an idea touted as an F&I "best practice" may violate the federal Truth in Lending Act, not to mention be sexist and in poor taste.

That's according to Julie Becker-Myers of Northwood University in Midland, Mich., who teaches classes in F&I, with a heavy emphasis on legal compliance.

Earlier this year, at the invitation of Automotive News, she agreed to review a collection of F&I tips submitted by readers. The ideas were solicited as part of a search for dealership managers who would discuss their best practices during the F&I Week online conference last month.

While picking a trio of "how-to" panelists, Becker-Myers discovered a "what not to do" as well.

Someone suggested highlighting the signature lines on a customer's finance contract. But Becker-Myers says certain things need to be disclosed on the contract and are already in bold type to stand out. If a dealership highlights other areas, the items that must be disclosed may no longer be the most-noticed items.

Not only that, the suggestion was to highlight -- in blue -- items for a man to sign and to highlight -- in pink -- items for a woman to sign. Says Becker-Myers: "That's just wrong."