A car dealership and advertising company have reached an agreement over claims they violated rules in advertising and marketing cars. The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa says Billion Auto Group and and Nichols Media have agreed to a $360,000 judgment to resolve claims they violated a 2012 Federal Trade Commission’s order against deceptive advertising when marketing the cost of buying or leasing a car.
The federal complaint against Billion Auto Group, which owns a chain of 20 dealerships, including those in Sioux City, Iowa City and Clive, says they frequently focused on only a few attractive terms while hiding others in fine print, through distracting visuals, or with rapid-fire audio delivery. The complaint says some dealership ads promoted low monthly payments or attractive annual percentage rates and finance periods, while concealing other material items, such as the low payments being for leases, not sales; major limits on who could qualify for discounts; and significant added costs.
A statement from U.S. Attorney Kevin Techau says “The action taken in this case is an important step to protect Iowans and sends an important message to the marketplace.”