General Motors dealers could face major penalties, even termination, if they fail to use a new disclosure form for customers who buy non-GM service contracts, a new or used vehicle with non-GM accessories or used vehicles with non-GM parts, the automaker told dealers last month.
But by enforcing the new disclosure process and draconian penalties, GM itself may be violating its franchise agreement, said dealership lawyers and associations, pushing back against the automaker's notice.
Under GM's franchise agreement, dealers for several years have been required to disclose when a service contract, part or accessory is a non-GM product. But now they must use the standardized form to make the disclosure, Alan Batey, president of GM North America, told dealers in a letter dated Aug.10.
GM says the move is intended, in part, to make clear to consumers the limits of its responsibility and liability for non-GM products. But opponents see it as an attempt to promote GM products at the expense of competitors'. Given the size of the accessories, parts and service contract markets, the stakes are huge.
Dealers whose stores ignore the new disclosure form could be required to pay $500 per incident. They could become ineligible to buy other GM dealerships or to benefit from GM's incentive programs, including the Essential Brand Elements program. Ultimately, the dealer could face possible franchise termination.