B.C. Chrysler store fined $44K for deceiving and misleading customers


PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – An AutoCanada Chrysler dealership and its former dealer principal have been fined by the B.C. Motor Vehicle Sales Authority for engaging in “general conduct calculated to deceive and mislead customers.”

Northland Chrysler Jeep Dodge and its previous owner Brent Marshall were slapped with $44,000 and $3,550 fines respectively stemming from the sale of four cars promoted in advertising back in June 2013.

The 21-page decision from acting registrar Wendy Baker posted online details how three of the seven fines relate to the sale of a 2006 Honda Civic.

The Prince George dealership was fined $6,000 and Marshall $600 for failing to advertise the Civic on the lot at the same price advertised in the flyer. It had been advertised for $9,988, but during a June off-site sale, the sticker price was $14,888. The unit was sold for $13,500 plus the administrative fee for a total of $14,089.

An additional $2,750 fine was issued for using a picture of a four-door sedan when the car in question was a two-door coupe.

The store was fined another $6,000 for misrepresenting a price advantage on that vehicle.

The remaining fines stem from an advertising issue around the sale of a 2009 Chevrolet Impala, an unadvertised administrative fee of $589 related to a 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan and describing a 2013 Dodge Journey in advertising when the actual vehicle for sale was a 2012 model.

Northland was also slapped with a $20,000 penalty for “general conduct calculated to deceive and mislead customers.”

Marshall was fined $2,000 for the same reason.

Baker cited examples including failing to ensure all salespeople knew the sale pricing advertised in the relevant effective periods of flyers, failure to correct flyers, failure to clearly identify that any negotiations on the purchase of an advertised vehicle will result in the administrative fee being added to the purchase price and failure to properly review the purchase agreements with purchasers, and to remove from or not include in such agreements items which have been declined by purchasers.

The ruling notes Northland largely consented to the terms of the compliance order and that Marshall voluntarily gave up his salesperson licence last December and no longer works at Northland.

The dealership also voluntarily reimbursed the purchasers who bought the vehicles related to the case.

“These factors have caused me to reduce somewhat the amount of penalties I might have otherwise imposed,” Baker wrote in the decision.

Though the association had found back in May 2014 that both parties had violated portions of the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, the hearing on the penalties was delayed until late May this year.

Penalties were issued August 13.

The B.C. Vehicle Sales Authority is a delegated authority with the mandate to license all motor vehicle dealerships and salespeople in B.C. It has authority to administer and enforce the Motor Dealer Act, portions of the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act and related regulations. The VSA also offers consumer assistance and dispute resolution.