Posted by Tamara
An auto advertising firm recently entered into a voluntary agreement to avoid prosecution under Vermont fraud laws. Gunning & Associates Marketing, Inc. does business under various names, including G&A Marketing, Fleet Liquidators of America, and National Fleet Liquidators. It enters into agreements with dealerships around the country to provide promotional materials, advertising, training, and staff assistance for used-car sales promotions, and dealerships typically pay the company an up-front advertising fee and a percentage for every vehicle sold during a “sales event.”
False advertising is a violation of the Vermont fraud laws. According to the Attorney General, G&A frequently advertising special used car events featuring “fleet liquidations” or implying that the cars sold are from rental car agencies, auto auctions or government sales. In fact, the cars are from the dealer’s usual stock.
Along with Vermont, other states who are party to the settlement with G&A Marketing are Oregon, Washington, California, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Tennessee, Vermont, and North Dakota. The District Attorney of Tulare County, California, also is party to the agreement. Negotiations were led by the Ohio AG’s Consumer Protection Division and its counterparts in Oregon and Washington.
Gunning & Associates, Inc. does not admit any violations of Vermont fraud laws in the “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance” it entered with the states.
The states asserted that vehicles sold in G&A-promoted “sales events” came from the dealers’ usual inventories, even though the vehicles might be touted as from government fleets, rental car bankruptcies, bank repossessions, and the like.
Under the settlement agreement with Gunning & Associates, Inc., the company:
Must not make false claims in advertised promotions.
Must not make or imply false claims about the sources of vehicles offered for sale, such as falsely claiming the vehicles are from vehicle fleets, auto auctions, or bank repossessions, or that a sale is being sponsored or conducted by a bank, lending institution, fleet, repossession or liquidation company, or that Gunning or its clients are in the liquidation business.
Must comply with federal credit reporting and truth in lending laws in its advertisements.
Must disclose the monthly payment amount based on financing only of the vehicle’s purchase price, and not including the cost of optional items.
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