What to look for in social media advertisements

| Consumer bulletins

You might be scrolling on your feed when you see an ad for a car. However, the ad is just a post from one of your followers, who works at a dealership and is encouraging people to test drive a vehicle. Does this even count as an advertisement?

In Alberta, the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and associated regulations set out the advertising rules for automotive businesses. An advertisement can be in print form such as a newspaper advertisement, broadcast such as a radio announcement, or online such as a social media post.

Here are some examples of requirements for advertisements appearing on social media such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

  • If a price is stated, it must be the all-in price, which means all fees and charges are already included into the price. The only fee that could be added on top of the price is GST and any costs associated with financing (CPA, Section 11(2)(l)).
  • The name of the business operator must appear in the advertisement as set out in the licence (Automotive Business Regulation (ABR), Section 11(1)(a)).
  • If the advertisement includes pictures of the vehicle, then the advertisement must state if the vehicle pictured in the advertisement is or is not the specific vehicle that is for sale (ABR, Section 11(2)).
  • If applicable, the advertisement must state if the vehicle had been owned by a company that provided rental vehicles or if the vehicle itself was used as a rental (ABR, Section 31.1(1)(f)).
  • If applicable, the advertisement must state if the vehicle had ever been declared salvage, non-repairable or unsafe (ABR, Section 31.1(1)(g)).

The person posting the advertisement on social media must also disclose that they work for the business as a salesperson.

Be wary of curbers

Curbers are unlicensed, illegal businesses who may look like they are selling from a legitimate business. Some curbers have sophisticated looking websites and advertisements.

If you are unsure if the person posting the advertisement is a registered salesperson or if the business does not seem legitimate, you can search the name of the salesperson or business through AMVIC’s database to ensure you are not dealing with a curber. If you suspect a curber, contact AMVIC at 1-877-979-8100 ext. 2002.