Submission Number: 563688-00159
Received: 3/13/2013 6:33:42 PM
Commenter: Erin Witte
Organization: Surovell Isaacs Petersen & Levy PLC
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: 16 CFR Part 455 Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule; Project No. P087604
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I work at a mid-sized law firm in Northern Virginia that represents many consumers, particularly victims of auto fraud in the used car industry. I believe the FTC should reject the proposed changes to the Used Car Rule, particularly because it would encourage dealers to defraud consumers who have less access to such information.
The proposed changes attempt to shift the burden to frequently unsophisticated, low-income consumers to perform their own research the history of the vehicle instead of requiring the dealer to do that research and disclose it. The dealer is in a vastly better position to do this research and disclose it than a consumer being pressured and lied to by a car dealer. In countless cases, I have represented consumers who stated that they relied on the dealer because of their knowledge and experience in the industry. The consumer should not be punished for relying on a dealer.
The proposed AS-IS disclosure does NOT accurately reflect the law in Virginia; particularly as it states that the dealer is never required to make repairs. This statement encourages dealers to tell the consumer anything they can to sell the car, and then hide behind a sheet of paper that they shuffled into a stack as soon as a consumer experiences a problem.
A NMVTIS check for a vehicle costs as little as $2, and provides a quick, effective method for determining the vehicle's history. The dealer should be required to perform the search and disclose it to a consumer on the Buyer's Guide. Very few consumers are aware of this service, but undoubtedly, nearly every motor vehicle dealer is.
I have reviewed the comments submitted on March 12, 2013, by the Arizona Consumers Council Foundation, Chicago Consumer Coalition Consumer Assistance Council, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Federation of California, Consumer Federation of the Southeast Consumer Action, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, National Association of Consumer Advocates National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-Income clients), U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, and Watsonville Law Center (see attached). I fully support and endorse those comments and adopt those recommendations.
The goal of the Buyers Guide should be to deliver as much information as possible into the hands of consumers who are looking at used vehicles and trying to determine how much to pay. As stated by the United States Supreme Court, "blind economic activity is inconsistent with the efficient functioning of a free economic system such as ours, whose ability to provide desired material at the lowest cost is dependent on the asserted preferences and informed choices of consumers." Mourning v. Family Publications Svc., Inc. 411 U.S. 356, 364 (1973). Therefore, the recommendations made by the attached letter should be adopted because they will increase the information provided to consumers, protect against fraud, and improve the functioning of our free economic system.