TADA lobbying for OEM inclusion under MVDA advertising regs

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By Jackson Hayes

The Trillium Automobile Dealers’ Association is lobbying the Ontario provincial government to remove language in the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act excluding auto manufacturers from all-in pricing.

The move, explained Frank Notte, director of government relations for the newly minted TADA (the Toronto Automobile Dealers’ Association joined forces with the Ontario Automobile Dealers’ Association this past winter), seeks to level the advertising playing field between dealers and the OEMs.

“All-in pricing regulations should apply across the board no matter if the dealer or manufacturer places the ad. If the government feels all-in pricing is in the consumer's best interest, than it should apply to every automobile ad,” Notte said, stressing the issue is with the government, not with the automakers.

Effective Jan. 1, 2010, Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) made official a series of new disclosure and advertising rules for the province’s new and used-car dealers.

The legislation required any dealers’ advertised vehicle price to be “all in.” This rule means no fine print hiding additional fees like freight and PDI. Yet, flip through any major newspaper’s automotive section and it is easy to spot ads from several automakers with scads of fine print.

“We have a dealer committee and it has identified confusion as an issue. The consumer comes in and says ‘I’ve seen the ad, why do I have to pay more?’ and that feeds into the perception of being dishonest,” he added.

In a letter to Margarett Best, minister of consumer services, the TADA called in to question the logic behind extolling the benefits of all-in pricing and how it increases consumer protection while at the same time exempting ads from manufactures and brokers.

“In a typical week, the TADA estimates at least 50 manufacturer ads are placed in the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun,” the TADA wrote in its letter to Best. “That represents 50 opportunities every week – 2,600 opportunities per year – that over 3 million individuals could be exposed to automobile ads not subject to all-in pricing.”

Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), said the TADA has yet to reach out to his organization in a substantial way to start the conversation about altering the regulations.

Nantais, whose association represents motor vehicle manufacturers in Canada, admitted the CVMA is a little confused as to why the TADA would lobby for changes to legislation primarily intended at governing dealership operations.

“They claim there is some sort of confusion about this with regards to advertisements, but I am not sure there is,” he said.

“If that is the issue, let’s sit down and talk about it… we [vehicle manufacturers] were never intended to be part of the Motor Vehicle Dealer Act nor do we think we should be,” he said. “There are certain requirements there, but it is the dealer act.”

The CVMA added it is willing to discuss the matter noting that nobody wants people walking out of dealerships.