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Olsen on misleading advertisements for cars
Whenever you are shopping for a car, be weary of advertisements, especially those found in newspapers. More often then not, the large print ads by big car manufacturers are misleading.
Many B.C. newspapers have car ads with a confusing mix of bold type and fine print, and it's the bold type most people read first.
When shown an advertisement to one reader, at first glance it appeared the lease rate was 0.5 per cent. But a closer look revealed the real rate is 9.9 per cent.
This is just one example of many misleading advertisements.
For example, a Hyundai ad featured attractive prices. The bold print says the car is for sale for $18,1806. A closer look shows that the picture doesn't match the price. Pictured is a top end model with a price of $28,000, much higher than the bold print.
"In the UK it would be against the law because it's false advertising," said one man.
An Acura ad found by CTV shows a 0.9 per cent purchase financing. But turn the ad sideways and the rate becomes a lot higher: from 4.8 to 10.42 per cent.
The differences made people on the street laugh when CTV showed the advertisement was shown to them, but B.C.'s Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA) isn't laughing.
"It appears that the national advertisers, the manufacturers, do not want to play by the rules. We've had discussions with them and their legal council," said VSA president and Registrar Ken Smith.
Smith says the VSA has been tracking ads too -- and car companies are about to be put on notice that they've got to clean up their advertising.
"In the last few weeks, we have started to assemble an investigation. We've been getting the names of the people that are involved and we'll carry out some enforcement action in the next few weeks," Smith said.
Enforcement starts with phone calls and letters and then can escalate to tickets, compliance orders, hearings and more severe penalties.
"Our goal's very simple -- we just need people to comply with the laws of British Columbia," Smith added.
The New Car Dealers' Association of B.C. says the manufacturers opt for the fine print in an attempt to comply with different regulations in each province.
Consumer reporter Chris Olsen monitor car ads over the summer and bring you an update in the fall.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen