Edmonton— The province’s automotive regulator, Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council, found 22 new car dealerships not following the province’s vehicle advertising regulations. These are the results from a recent undercover investigation where AMVIC peace officers secret shopped 34 dealerships in Calgary and Edmonton.
“These results highlight the importance of the work we have been doing to enforce Alberta’s consumer protection laws,” John Bachinski, executive director of AMVIC said.
Secret shoppers focused on all-in pricing compliance. All automotive sales businesses in Alberta are required to advertise the total price of a vehicle including all fees—the only addition, GST.
AMVIC investigators found a number of infractions such as fees not always being included in the advertised price, the advertised vehicle not always on the lot and in one instance freight charges were billed twice.
“There is no reasonable excuse for non-compliance,” Bachinski said. “We educate through a mandatory course, regular bulletins and newsletters so businesses and salespeople are fully aware of the rules.”
As a result of the investigation, nine dealerships were found to be following the rules and require no further action. However, 22 dealerships were not in compliance. One Fair Trading Act charge is pending, seven businesses are facing reviews which could result in administrative penalties or other action and 14 warnings letters have been issued as per AMVIC’s progressive enforcement policy. In addition, three dealerships require follow-up inspections which could result in further action.
“We take our role as regulator of the automotive industry very seriously,” Bachinski said. “We are working with Service Alberta to see where improvements can be made to enhance consumer protection for Albertans.”
In 2014 AMVIC issued 246 per cent more undertakings and director’s orders relating to advertising than it did five years earlier. An undertaking is a negotiated enforcement action and may involve payment of costs associated with the investigation. A director’s order lays out specific requirements that must be fulfilled in order to comply with the laws and regulations.
A new enforcement tool available to AVMIC is administrative penalties of up to $100,000. They can be imposed on a business or individual who has broken the laws or regulations. The largest advertising-related administrative penalty to date is $3,500.
AMVIC follows a progressive enforcement model which may include:
- Warning letters
- Administrative reviews
- Licensing action (conditions, suspensions, cancellations)
- Director’s orders
- Administrative penalties
Media inquiries may be directed to:
Manager of Communications and Education
Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council
About AMVIC: The Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC) is the automotive regulator authorized by the Minister of Service Alberta to enforce and administer the following legislation in relation to automotive business: the Fair Trading Act; the Automotive Business Regulation; the Cost of Credit Disclosure Regulation, and the Internet Sales Contract Regulation. AMVIC’s mandate is to provide consumer protection in Alberta’s motor vehicle industry. AMVIC publishes valuable information and tips for consumers, businesses and salespeople at www.amvic.org.