As seen in several Industry journals.
There is a cliché that originated from an old Chinese proverb that says “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I would propose to you that this picture most certainly falls within this category.
I remember way back in the late 1980’s having David Robertson, President of the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals (AFIP) come to the dealership in Boise to train and test our F&I managers. I recall at that time David was promoting the need for a formal and professional association whereby F&I professionals would have a place to turn in the event they were seeking education and/or information to keep themselves and their dealership out of harm’s way.
From that point forward I have made concentrated efforts to keep myself and hundreds of other F&I, and other dealership, staff current and up to date on laws, rules and regulations that influence our retail sales industry. Just a side note here, I was the ninth person to be certified by AFIP and since then have went on to become Senior Certified in this ongoing effort to remain on top of the myriad of legal matters that effect us all.
Back to the picture. As I was recently traveling through southern California I spotted this billboard that made me stop and turn around to insure myself that I saw what I thought I had seen. To my horror I was right. That which industry professionals have been touting for years has come to fruition. Here was this billboard sign advertising, no-actually advocating and encouraging, for customers to call them for possible dealership “Lemon Law” violations and potential “Dealership Fraud.”
Now, I don’t need to tell anyone in our industry why shivers started running up the back of my spine. In this current economic environment where customers are searching under every rock to find a way to get out from under the burden of a car or RV payment, along comes a potential knight in shining armor. Is this a possible witch hunt? Maybe.
There will be some readers of this article that will shrug this off and say something like “Well, we don’t have to worry because we are always legal and do everything in total compliance!” While I certainly hope this proves true, perhaps a visit to this law firm’s website can usher in perhaps even a sliver of concern. After all, errors and mistakes can and do happen even to the best and most seasoned amongst us.
This law firm boasts about their chief litigator’s background as having been in the forefront of the retail industry, having served in various management positions within a dealership. After attaining a law degree, this person promotes that he is very aware of the dishonest and sometimes deceptive practices that goes on within dealerships. He even uses “Our language.” On one issue alone, he informs the prospective clients that the dealership might have violated the law by hiding or masking the amount they were “Buried” in their trade-in, and he goes on to inform them that this might be a violation and he, of course, would be happy to assist them in seeking a lawful remedy.
Napoleon Bonaparte was also attributed with this old cliché as he said “Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu’un long discours “or” A good sketch is better than a long speech”. Take a careful look at this billboard picture for I fear it might be a growing trend as the civil litigators search out easy targets to fill their coffers. Perhaps the industry professionals that have been promoting ongoing training and education in compliance matters aren’t too far off their target when they inform you to watch out for the regulators, both foreign (Civil litigators) and domestic (Government regulators).