In March, I attended an NADA Public Affairs meeting that really got my attention. In addition to the Tesla discussion (see my column in last month's SDADA bulletin), we learned that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) has indirect lending through dealerships square in its bull's-eye. With the way the profits are distributed in most new vehicle stores, that should scare the hell out of us!
Lat month, the CFPB released a bulletin that claims indirect lending through dealerships may result in minorities paying more for auto loans. Though dealers are exempt from CFPB oversight, auto lenders are not. So the CFPB’s guidance could drastically change how auto finance sources compensate dealers for arranging auto loans. In other words, banks could get rid of finance reserve.
It would be very interesting to see the methodology by which the CFPB has come to this conclusion. They are not accusing anyone of intentional discrimination. The CFPB issued its guidance based on a theory called disparate impact. If minorities end up paying more for credit than non-minorities in the same credit tier, then it is considered unintentional discrimination. But how does CFPB determine disparate impact exists in today’s marketplace?
Disparate impact can only be proven through a statistical analysis of past transactions, but the CFPB has not revealed how it is conducting its analysis or what data it’s relying upon. There is also no indication that the Bureau has studied how moving to a “flat fee” compensation method would impact the marketplace.
We know that dealer-assisted financing—which is optional—increases access to and reduces the cost of credit for millions of Americans. Our customers overwhelmingly choose dealer-assisted financing because it’s convenient and competitive.
Before this consumer-friendly model is disrupted, the CFPB should explain how it is conducting its analysis. The Bureau also should demonstrate the effect flat fees would have on today’s intensely competitive auto financing market.
The regulatory beast that is the federal government continues to extend its ugly tentacles into every facet of our business and our lives. This is an issue that’s not likely to go away, so stay tuned.
FTC Staff Revises Online Advertising Disclosure Guidelines
Our second example of intrusive government regulations is the Federal Trade Commission's release of a new guidance for mobile and other online advertisers that explains how to make disclosures clear and conspicuous to avoid deception. Updating guidance known as Dot Com Disclosures, which was released in 2000, the new FTC staff guidance, .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising, takes into account the expanding use of smartphones with small screens and the rise of social media marketing. It also contains mock ads that illustrate the updated principles. Like the original, the updated guidance emphasizes that consumer protection laws apply equally to marketers across all mediums, whether delivered on a desktop computer, a mobile device, or more traditional media such as television, radio or print.
Connecticut Body Shop Faces More Than $50,000 in OSHA Fines
Finally, if you don't do what "Big Brother" wants you to, this is what happens. Hoffman Auto Body Shop has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for nine alleged violations of workplace safety standards at its Connecticut Avenue facility in East Hartford. The auto body repair shop faces proposed fines of $54,300. OSHA’s Hartford Area Office began their inspection on Dec. 6, 2012, to verify correction of hazards cited during a 2011 inspection. In the 2012 inspection, OSHA identified hazards similar to those cited during the 2011 inspection. Specifically, equipment and materials, some of it flammable, were stored near paint spray booths and electric panels. The stored materials limited access to extinguish potential fires, presented fire and shock hazards and impeded cleaning around the booths, which allows potentially combustible materials to accumulate.