Submission Number: 563688-00124
Received: 3/12/2013 9:53:42 AM
Commenter: Todd Willis
Organization: Willis & Willis Co., L.P.A.
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: 16 CFR Part 455 Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule; Project No. P087604
Attachments: No Attachments
Any evaluation of changes to the Buyers Guide should start with this truth in mind:
When an American buys a car, the default rule is: once you sign, there's no going back.
I am an actively practicing consumer protection attorney with 14 years experience, licensed in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Due to a number of legislative changes and judicial rulings, the field of consumer protection law, in general, is already weaker than it has been essentially since it emerged in the 1970's. We are reaching a point where we have a number of laws and regulations on the books that lack any viable enforcement mechanism and therefore offer more illusory than actual protection to consumers. Our firm fields calls on a daily basis from the general public, and I make my living in trying to help them when I can. Most "used car" calls that my office receives are not viable matters for an attorney, most commonly due either to a sketchy dealer who may not even be collectible, or a mandatory arbitration clause inserted by the more viable dealers. Consumers are easily outgunned by dealers if they want to try and take them on without an attorney. So, lacking viable enforcement, our citizens are functionally back to operating in an environment of caveat emptor (one of the chief doctrines meant to be reined in by consumer protection law in the first place).
For the vast majority of used vehicle purchasers then, the Buyers Guide is one of the most important pieces of information available to them during their one and only opportunity to evaluate whether a given vehicle and a given deal are truly in their interest. Again, for 99 out of every 100 car buyers, a simpler way of putting this is: once they sign, there's no going back. Information clearly identifying all available warranties should be prominently displayed on the front of the guide. The proposed change to the "AS IS" verbiage does nothing to clarify the meaning of the term to consumers; its more broader language obviously could be construed by a consumer to discourage her from reaching out to others for help. The current definition is preferred and has the advantage of being construed in caselaw over a sustained period of time.
The Buyers Guide is more important now than ever before. The proposed changes do not serve the public's interest.