Submission Number: 563688-00041
Received: 1/30/2013 5:44:16 PM
Commenter: David Valdez
Organization: Law Office of David Valdez Jr.
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: 16 CFR Part 455 Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule; Project No. P087604
Attachments: No Attachments
I am providing this comment in strong opposition to the proposed language change to the Buyers Guide.
I have been practicing law in the area of Car Dealer Fraud and Lemon Law for over ten years. One of the most common misconceptions (probably the most common) that consumers have about vehicle purchases, is that they have no recourse for undisclosed, concealed, and/or misrepresented vehicle defects/problems when a vehicle is sold "AS IS". The misunderstanding of "AS IS" sales is also common to judges and lawyers. In my experience, the driving forces behind this misconception are automobile salespersons and dealers.
This is almost always the first argument made by dealers when a consumer complains about serious vehicle problems discovered shortly after purchase. This position is inevitably followed by either 1) an offer to accept the same car back as a trade-in at a significantly reduced value, or 2) an option to use the same downpayment toward a more expensive vehicle.
This dealer strategy is systematic and very successful. It's success is based largely upon the deceptive language contained in the current version of the Buyers Guide. The current version first states that "Spoken promises are difficult to enforce" and then states that despite any spoken promises, the dealer is not responsible for repairs. "The dealer assumes no responsibility for any repairs regardless of any oral statements about this vehicle."
Because of this language, many consumers believe they have no remedies and do not know to seek assistance. As a result, consumers resign themselves to bad debt and poor credit, or incur significantly more debt/expense to repair their means of transportation. THE PROPOSED LANGUAGE IS MUCH WORSE. This language strongly enforce this misconception.
The proposed language actually sounds as though it is meant to discredit anyone who suggests to a wronged consumer that he has rights. "The dealer is not responsible for any repairs, regardless of what anybody tells you." This language aggressively misstates and misinforms.
The public would be far better served by eliminating the Buyers Guide altogether, rather than including this new language.
Instead of the proposed language, a legitimate improvement to the Buyers Guide would be a statement that an "AS IS" sale does not relieve a dealer from responsibility for misrepresentations, concealment, or nondisclosure of a vehicle's defective/problematic conditions/history. Such language would dramatically reduce consumer misconceptions, rather and enforce them.
David Valdez Jr.