FTC coming down hard on deceptive ads

It is true that most local car ads are anything but subtle, but according to the Federal Trade Commission, some have simply gone too far. Throughout the United States, there have been five dealerships that are forced to settle with the FTC because they made bold claims about promising to pay consumers' trade-ins – regardless of how much the customer still owed on the car.

However, even though the ads (and subsequent YouTube videos) make promises, it turns out that the customers themselves ended up paying the money – not the dealerships. Instead of paying off the amount as had been promised, they required consumers to pay the difference out of pocket simply used the negative equity into the new car loan taken out by the consumer.

As part of the settlement, these dealers are no longer allowed to make deceptive claims in the future or run the same ads again. In addition, they are going to have to keep copies of relevant ads and materials for the next 20 years – clearly the FTC does not believe in letting these deceptive dealerships off the hook. They are also going to have to file compliance reports with the FTC.    

This is a textbook example that most copywriters should never forget. Sometimes it is easy to bend the truth a little to make a product or service seem more interesting, but if you go from copywriter to boldface liar, chances are that you are going to be called out on it eventually. Once we cross that threshold, how difficult is it going to be as a business to ever get the stench of 'fraud' off your business, is that truly worth the few extra dollars that you can make?