Courtesy Auto denies FTC accusations

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Courtesy Auto Group of Attleboro, Mass., denied accusations by the Federal Trade Commission that it engaged in deceptive advertising.

The accusations came as the FTC said nine dealerships nationwide had agreed to 20-year settlements after being charged with deceptive advertising. Courtesy Auto Group did not agree to a settlement, and the Commission voted unanimously to issue an administrative complaint against the Massachusetts dealership.

The FTC's investigation focused on advertisements related to the sale, financing and leasing of vehicles.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Courtesy Auto Group General Manager Steve Silva told Automotive News, "Basically, they [FTC] have made a complaint against us. There's been no settlement made because we feel we've done nothing wrong."

Hundreds of others

"We got flagged on a video from our Web site that was made by UnityWorks, which made the video and put a disclaimer at the bottom, which they do for various dealers," Silva said.

"This company does videos for six to seven hundred other dealers and in the video it says, 'At participating dealers.' Now we wouldn't put that in our own video. That's why we don't feel that we did anything wrong."

A request for comment was left with UnityWorks Media of Minneapolis.

The FTC's administrative complaint against Courtesy Auto Group alleges that the dealership violated the FTC Act by deceptively advertising that consumers can lease a vehicle for no down payment and specific monthly payments when in fact the advertised amounts exclude substantial fees.

Formal hearing

The ads also allegedly violate the Consumer Leasing Act and Regulation M by failing to disclose or clearly and conspicuously disclose certain lease-related terms.

The issuance of the administrative complaint marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations against Courtesy Auto Group will be tried in a formal hearing before an administrative law judge.

You can reach Sean Gagnier at sgagnier@crain.com.


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