Two Ohio auto dealers agreed Tuesday to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they tricked consumers with advertisements touting low monthly care lease payments while not disclosing important terms of the offers - including credit score requirements.
The FTC’s administrative complaint alleged that Progressive Chevrolet Company and Progressive Motors Inc., of Masillon, Ohio, also failed to properly disclose terms such as the total amount due at signing and whether a security deposit was required. Most consumers couldn’t qualify for the advertised terms, according to the FTC, which charged the auto dealers with violating the FTC Act, the Consumer Leasing Act and Regulation M.
The settlement order, which will remain in effect for 20 years, prohibits the auto dealers from advertising misleading lease or financing terms. It requires them to clearly and conspicuously disclose all qualifications or restrictions on a consumer’s ability to obtain the advertised terms. If the ad states that consumers must meet a certain credit score to qualify for the offer and a majority of consumers aren't likely to meet the stated score, the ad must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact.
The auto dealers also are barred from advertising a payment amount, or that any or no initial payment is required, without clearly disclosing that the transaction is a lease, the total amount due at consummation or delivery, the number of payments and their amounts and timing, whether or not a security deposit is required and that there may be an extra charge at the end of the lease where the consumer’s liability is based on the difference between the vehicle’s residual value and its value at the end of the lease.Progressive Chevrolet Company also does business as Progressive Auto Group, Progressive Jeep and Progressive Chrysler. Progressive Motors Inc. also does business as Progressive Ram and Progressive Chrysler Jeep Dodge Inc.