WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) has announced that three Dallas area auto dealers collectively known as
Southwest Kia will pay $85,000 in civil penalties after allegations of
violating an FTC administrative order barring them from deceptive advertising.
According to the FTC, the auto dealers concealed sale and
lease terms that added costs or limited who could qualify for vehicles at
advertised prices, an act that violates a 2014 order against the companies.
For example, one TV ad by the dealers offered cars at “under
$200 per month.” Fine print that only appeared for two seconds disclosed that
the offer was not for car sales, only car leases. Additionally, the fine print
noted that $1,999 would be due in payment at lease signing.
The FTC charged that Southwest Kia also specifically
targeted people with major credit problems. In one ad, the companies touted vehicles
for $250 per month, but in fine print mentioned that the offer was based on a
4.25 annual percentage that almost none of these consumers could obtain.
The FTC voted 3-0 to authorize the staff to refer the
complaint to the Department of Justice and approve the stipulated final order.