Many dealers provide a valuable service helping customers find the best possible financing for their vehicle purchases. Unfortunately, not all financing representations are in the best interest of the consumer—some have proven to be illegal.
In May 2017, Ryen A. Maxwell, a once-registered salesperson at an Oshawa dealership, was convicted of falsifying information and furnishing false information in violation of the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) and of committing an unfair business practice contrary to the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The charges were laid after an OMVIC investigation found Maxwell falsified employment information on a credit application for a vulnerable consumer. Sentencing is scheduled for August 24th. Note: Maxwell’s registration was also revoked.
In March 2015, Canada Motor Car Inc. pled guilty to engaging in an unfair practice in violation of the CPA. The Scarborough dealer was charged after OMVIC received complaints about a credit rebuilding program offered by the dealer. The dealer acknowledged representations about the plan were exaggerated or ambiguous and was fined $8,000. The dealership was also ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to be divided equally amongst 13 consumers.
Car Solutions Canada Inc., Elie Vidal, Angela Vidal and Charlene Douglas were charged by OMVIC in April, 2016 with furnishing false information contrary to the MVDA. The charges allege the Toronto dealer, Vidal, Vidal and Douglas assisted in furnishing, or induced or counseled another person to furnish, false or deceptive information and documents related to the trade (financing) of a motor vehicle. The charges are currently before the court; a trial will be held in October.
Dealers and salespeople are required to conduct business with honesty and integrity and to be clear and truthful in describing the products, services, programs and prices connected with the vehicles sold; this includes representations made in relation to the financing dealers arrange for customers. Further, OMVIC reminds dealers of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) requirement that no dealer make a false, misleading, deceptive or unconscionable representation.
Based on these requirements, dealers are reminded to:
- Ensure credit applications are filled out accurately
- Allow customers to review (and obtain a copy) of a credit application before submitting it to a lender
- Notify (and get approval from) customers if the application will be sent to more than one lender
- Provide the customer with the offers from all lenders (if submitted to more than one)
- Ensure that the terms and interest rate provided serve the best interest of the customer
- Accurately reflect the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of a loan (the APR must include all fees)
- Disclose on the Bill of Sale if the dealer receives a fee from a lender for arranging financing
- Ensure the Bill of Sale depicts the true nature of the transaction including accurately identifying negative equity
Additionally, registrants are reminded that the CPA considers the following to be examples of unconscionable representations:
- If the consumer cannot protect his or her own interests (perhaps because of a disability, illiteracy, impairment, etc .)
- If the price grossly exceeds the price that should be charged
- The consumer has no possibility of meeting the payments
- The dealer or salesperson gave a misleading opinion and the consumer relied on that opinion to his or her detriment
As pointed out in a 2014 Bulletin, dealer representations about financing have attracted the attention of the media and government. The recent charges/convictions noted in this Bulletin and continuing consumer complaints to OMVIC demonstrate these concerns still exist. OMVIC recommends all dealers and finance managers review their practices and ensure compliance with the MVDA, CPA and Code of Ethics.
For more information, dealers or salespersons should contact OMVIC’s Complaints and Inquiries Team at 1-800-943-6002x3942. To view a recording of the OMVIC/UCDA webinar on the CPA click here.