Dealers Behaving Badly: FTC Seeks to Crack Down on F&I

dealers behaving badly ftc seeks to crack down on f i

We would wager our combined annual salaries – a sum roughly equal to the value of a half dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme – that every single soul reading this website has a story or three about being blitzed with products in a dealer’s F&I office. Vehicle etching, useless warranties (sorry – this paper only covers mechanical fuel pumps), and p-packs up the wazoo are the bane of most shoppers’ existence when trying to buy a car.

Make no wonder some people call it the “Effin’ Eye” office.

This environment may change if the Federal Trade Commission gets its way. According to a report by Automotive News, a new proposal by the FTC would ban finance/insurance coverage and physical vehicle add-ons “that provide no benefit” while also requiring expanded disclosure on such items.

The commission’s notice of these proposed regulations was approved by a 4-1 vote earlier this week, said AN. An accompanying news release described some physical additions and F&I products as unfair add-ons, though the quartet of commissioners who voted in favor of these proposed regs did acknowledge that “not all add-ons provide no value.” Some of the items which rankled their feathers included misleading motor vehicle advertising, financing paperwork falsification, and so-called yo-yo financing practices.

“As auto prices surge, the commission is taking comprehensive action to prohibit junk fees, bait-and-switch advertising and other practices that hit consumers’ pocketbooks,” FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine said in a statement. “Our proposed rule would save consumers time and money and help ensure a level playing field for honest dealers.”

Stated on page seven in the document linked above is a statement that the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) suggests dealers averaged a profit of $2,444 per vehicle in pre-pandemic times, with more than half that profit coming from the F&I office. Today’s figures are surely skewed differently, what with obscene dealer markups on retail units being the norm rather than the exception. Your author has personally viewed deals with over $20,000 gross when counting both the front and back ends. And that was on a fairly pedestrian vehicle, not a bazillion-dollar hypercar. Gross, indeed.

A former colleague of this writer used to intentionally refer to the Business Manager at our store as the Finance Clerk, a term guaranteed to make the man’s blood pressure rise since he saw himself as a cornerstone of moneymaking operations at the place. While he did sell his share of WearCare and nitrogen-filled valve stem caps (seriously), there was always the overarching argument that his high-pressure tactics ‘in the box’ routinely scuppered scores the shopper would give on the brand’s follow-up survey, tanking any hope of a quarterly bonus even though the customer had little issue with the salesman himself.

How about you? Any horror stories from the Effin’ Eye office? Sound off in the comments below.

[Image: Murilee Martin]

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  • Carlson Fan Carlson Fan on Jul 01, 2022

    When the F&I guy tried to sell me an extended warranty on my used Volt I just told him all the money I save not purchasing warranties I use to fix things when they break.....LOL The warranty only covered the car to up to a 100K miles and I knew no way in hell I'd spend over $2K in repairs before it rolled a 100K miles. And I was right, 0$ in repairs for the little Chevy.. .

  • Dothetime Dothetime on Jul 07, 2022

    of course since I'm here I'm a car savvy guy, an 85 year old lady neighbor asked me to accompany her to buy her Honda CRV off the lease she had. The F & I guy tried to scare the shit out of her by telling her that she needed to buy the extended warranty. He informed us that due to the chip shortage, if any of the chips in her car went bad it could cost her $2500-$5000 for repairs and if she needed a headlight housing it would be $2000.After I stopped laughing he tried to charge her $500 for her title transfer instead of the $250 previously agreed upon. We left with the proper charges and no extended warranty.

  • MRF 95 T-Bird The Buick 215/3.5-liter aluminum V8 was one of GMs great engines. Unfortunately GM being GM in one of their greatest mistakes was selling off the tooling to BL. If they kept it around and improved upon it it would have been a fine motor for their compacts and midsize models through the OPEC oil crisis.
  • Chris P Bacon Not sure why a '21 is getting reviewed, because there have been improvements to the 4xe. I've got a '22 4xe Sahara. May 2022 build in High-Velocity yellow with a soft top. As soon as it was announced I knew I wanted to try it, not for the fuel mileage, but for the technology. I don't have a Level 2 charger, it charges fully overnight on the included Level 1. I see an indicated range of 27 miles regularly. Today it indicated 29 when I unplugged. I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles, a full charge costs me about $3 based on my current electricity supplier. I don't experience the rough transitions between electric and gas, so maybe Jeep figured it out? It's stupid fast when using all the power off the line. So much so that it will break the rear wheels loose when you stomp on it. I agree that plugin hybrids are the future. I see no need for a pure electric. This is the way to go.
  • RHD The word B R O N C O written in contrasting paint on the dashboard is quite unnecessary. The passenger certainly knows what kind of vehicle he or she is in. That detail is a big fail. The red and white Bronco looks great, especially with tires that have honest-to-goodness sidewalls on them.
  • Luke42 Aren't those trim levels just different colors of paint?That's what they sound like, at least. 🤷‍♂️
  • Varezhka BEVs are not getting any more affordable because most of the cost is material, unlike mostly steel (cheap) gas powered cars.It’s like asking why gold and platinum aren’t getting any cheaper. And it’s only going to get worse with the sudden global interest in BEVs.