Car dealers should be ready for possible FTC regulations

Another potential FTC provision would ban dealers from selling any accessories or F&I products where “the consumer would not benefit.”

“I think it’s a mistake not to be concerned,” panelist Sam D’Arc, COO of Zeigler Automotive Group, said of the FTC’s move.

Noonan said dealerships should prepare for FTC regulations by ensuring customers know what they’re purchasing and items aren’t being slipped into deals.

She also encouraged dealers to evaluate their F&I products now. Earlier in the panel discussion, she recalled having conducted a mock exam of F&I products on behalf of clients. Some offerings were “great,” and “some of them weren’t,” she said.

Dealerships would be liable for parroting a product provider’s claim to a customer, she warned. “I would push back on my vendors and ask for their substantiation,” Noonan said.

D’Arc said his group sought to prepare for potential FTC regulation by cutting down the number of products it offered.

Panelist Cindy Merry, finance director for Continental Auto Group, suggested such refinement might have value regardless.

“We’ve been very careful about vetting products,” she said. Customers get overwhelmed with too many offerings, and her staff — which serve both as sales and F&I personnel — would be overwhelmed trying to learn too large a portfolio.

D’Arc said one “silver lining” was dealers were likely doing what Noonan advised anyway.

“Those are good, basic practices that most dealers in this room would be doing in some form,” he said.

Everything the FTC sought to crack down on with the new rule was already illegal, Noonan said. But even good dealers needed to worry about its new proposal for regulating that behavior, she said.

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