Take a closer look at the next automotive ad you see. Does the ad indicate the business is AMVIC licensed? What about the font size— is it legible? Did you know the vehicle advertised must be available for sale when the ad is placed? These are just a few of the laws all AMVIC-licensed businesses are required to follow when placing an ad.

Related:

What’s considered an ad?

An ad could be any AMVIC-licensed businesses’ website or other online ads, print, social media, billboard, radio and TV. Remember, AMVIC licenses automotive sales including new, used and RV, lease, repair, consignment, wholesale and agent/broker businesses which means they all must comply with automotive advertising regulations.

The price advertised plus GST is the law.

All-in pricing is the law in Alberta. That means when an AMVIC-licensed seller advertises the price of a vehicle it must include ALL fees and charges the seller intends to charge.  The only fee that can be added to the advertised price is GST and any costs associated with financing.

The Automotive Business Regulation, Section 11(2)(l) states that businesses must include “[…]in the advertised price for any vehicle the total cost of the vehicle, including, but not limited to, all fees and charges such as the cost of accessories, optional equipment physically attached to the vehicle, transportation charges and any applicable taxes or administration fees, but not including GST or costs and charges associated with financing.”

Examples of fees or charges that may be included in the advertised price but cannot be added on to it:

  • Freight
  • PDI-PDE (pre-delivery inspection/expense)
  • Administration (Admin) fee(s)
  • Levy recoveries (AMVIC levy, air conditioning levy, etc.)
  • Pre-installed products and services (Nitrogen/tire protection package, Security or theft deterrent products/services such as etching, etc., fuel)

FAQ

What about manufacturer ads?
Manufacturer ads are not subject to the advertising laws and regulations that AMVIC enforces including all-in pricing. If an Alberta business is not identified in the ad it is most likely a manufacturer ad.

What if I want to add options that are not included with the vehicle being advertised?
The seller is permitted to increase the sale price if you request additional features that weren’t included in the advertised vehicle. For example, if the vehicle does not include heated seats but you negotiate to have them installed, the sale price will increase to reflect the results of your negotiation.

What if the advertised vehicle isn’t on the lot?
The advertised vehicle must be available for sale at the time the ad is placed. Advertising a vehicle that is not available for sale is known as a “bait and switch” and this practice contravenes advertising laws and regulations.

What can I do if I’ve been misled by an ad?
You can contact consumer services and file a complaint.

Do the same laws apply to both new and used car ads?
Yes— the same laws apply no matter if the vehicle advertised is brand new or used.

Do the laws also cover service and repair ads?
Yes— service and repair ads must also comply with Alberta’s advertising laws. For example, all automotive advertisements must use descriptions and make promises only in accordance with actual conditions, situations and circumstances.

What are some of the other requirements for ads?
Advertising laws can be found in Alberta’s Fair Trading Act, Automotive Business Regulation and Cost of Credit Disclosure Regulation. A complete guide to all automotive advertising law can also be found here:

Advertising Laws

Why should businesses comply?

It’s the law.

Contraventions of Fair Trading Act, Traffic Safety Act and associated regulations, such as the Automotive Business Regulation, can result in enforcement action.

Examples:

Check out examples of ads that are misleading and break the advertising laws in Alberta by clicking on the tabs below.

The new car Maria has been eyeing up is advertised for $22,000 at a local dealership. She went to the dealership, mentioned the ad and asked if $22,000 was “all-in”, the total price. She was told she could drive away with it for $22,000 plus the cost of freight and GST.

In this example the business is adding the freight charge on top of the advertised price which is against the regulations. Maria should not sign any paperwork agreeing to pay that price. Instead, she should contact AMVIC.

Cheng saw an SUV advertised for $30,000. Cheng went to the dealership looking to finance that vehicle. However, he was told if he chose the 0.6% financing promotion, the vehicle would actually cost $38,000 plus GST and financing fees. The only way they would sell the vehicle for the advertised price is if he chose the 7.5% financing option. In that case, he’d get the vehicle for $30,000 plus GST and financing fees.

This is against the regulations. The dealership cannot charge more than the advertised price plus GST and/or costs and charges associated with financing. The dealership must sell the SUV for the advertised $30,000 (plus GST and applicable financing costs) regardless of whether the buyer wanted to pay cash or finance at any rate offered. If the business wanted to sell it for $38,000 plus GST and financing then it should have advertised the vehicle at $38,000.

Tanya was looking online for a car. She found exactly what she was looking for and was happy with the $14,000 price tag. She went to the dealership to do a test drive and was told the vehicle had just sold but they had a similar model available for $17,000. Tanya settled for the $17,000 car, even though she originally wanted the $14,000 car. Two weeks later, she stumbled upon the same exact ad from the same dealership for the same used car even though she was told it was already sold…

The automotive business regulation requires that all ads include the stock number of the specific vehicle that is for sale and it must be available for sale at the time the advertisement is placed.

Once a vehicle is sold, the vehicle cannot be advertised again. It is against the laws and regulations to use “bait and switch” style sales tactics. In this case, Tanya should file her concern with AMVIC.

Rick saw an ad on Kijiji for a brand new car posted by a dealership for only $580. Rick knew $580 was far too little to pay for a brand new car, so he clicked on the ad to see if he can find the all-in total price of the vehicle. Unfortunately, the total cost of the vehicle was nowhere to be found.

The ad the dealership posted is missing the total cost of the vehicle which is a requirement of the automotive business regulation. Consumers could find the ad misleading.