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Don’t Get Stuck With Window Stickers

March 2007, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Joe Bartolone - Also by this author

Did you ever stop and look at all the different types of window stickers applied to new and used cars? SALE, DEMO, LOW MILEAGE, ONE OWNER, RED TAG SALE, CERTIFIED PRE-OWNED, REBATE, 0% FINANCING. The list goes on and on. Aside from the marketing stickers, there are also three very important window stickers that every new and used car are required to have. For new cars this includes the Monroney sticker and Addendum sticker. Used cars take a different set of stickers, including the FTC Used Car Buyer’s Guide. There are specific requirements for each of these stickers, and dealers should be aware of the risks and exposures associated with each. This is why reviewing window stickers is an integral part of a gvo3 & Associates sales and F&I compliance audit.

Monroney Sticker

The Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958, commonly known as the Monroney Act or Price Sticker Act, requires the affixing of a retail price sticker to the windshield or side window of new vehicles with a gross vehicular weight rating of less than 8,500 pounds. The sticker must include the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), engine and transmission specifications, standard equipment and warranty details, and optional equipment and pricing. It must also state city and highway fuel economy ratings, which is determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Monroney Act also prohibits the sticker from being removed or altered prior to the sale of a vehicle. Criminal prosecution is possible for the willful removal of a label and is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a fine of $100,000 per violation for an individual, and $200,000 per violation for an organization. Violators also face imprisonment of up to one year.

Generally, there aren’t many issues when it comes to new vehicles, as new cars come from the factory with the Monroney sticker already affixed. All a dealer has to do is leave it on the window until the vehicle is sold. In recent years, however, dealers have started installing window tint as a dealer add-on prior to the vehicle sale. Some dealers outsource the process while others have invested in the equipment and materials to install it themselves. In either case, the Monroney sticker will have to be removed to apply the window tint, then returned once the work is completed. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

What we’ve noticed in our sales and F&I compliance reviews is that there can be a breakdown in the process. By spot checking the new-car inventory, we have found Monroney stickers placed in the glove box, or lying on the front dashboard, back seat or floor. There are several reasons why this might have happened. The dealer may have hired a new porter, a new detail or set-up person that didn’t realize the stickers had to be re-affixed. Sometimes, the stickers are removed on demo rides, and other times the sun may cause the adhesive to fail. Bottom line: If you’re installing window tint to your new vehicles, make sure someone is checking the new-car inventory on a regular basis to ensure the Monroney stickers are properly displayed.

Addendum Window Sticker

The purpose of the Addendum Window Sticker is to disclose additional dealer-installed accessories (i.e., products installed prior to the vehicle’s sale). The price of the accessories is added to the MSRP to reflect a new total price. Dealers may also use the Addendum Window Sticker to add additional markup on high-demand/short-supply vehicles. This amount is usually disclosed as “Additional Dealer Markup” or “Retail Market Adjustment.”

Dealers risk coming under the scrutiny of their state attorney general’s office when using the Addendum Window Sticker to add products such as paint protection, fabric protection and etch. Using these products as a discounting tool and giving the consumer the appearance that these products are not optional has been viewed as an unfair and deceptive trade practice in many states. Including additional dealer markup to every new vehicle is another risky practice.

Our recommendation is to limit additional dealer accessories to “hard adds” only, and to limit the use of additional markup to those hard-to-find specialty vehicles.

FTC Used Car Buyer’s Guide

Dealers who sell more than five cars in a 12-month period must comply with the FTC’s Used Car Rule, which applies in all states except Wisconsin and Maine. These two states are exempt because they have similar regulations that require dealers to post disclosures on used vehicles.

The rule states that you must post a buyer’s guide before you “offer” a vehicle for sale. A vehicle is offered for sale when you display it for sale, or let a consumer inspect it for the purpose of buying it, even if the vehicle is not fully prepared for delivery.

The Buyer’s Guide is a disclosure document that gives consumers important purchasing and warranty information, including:

• Whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a warranty

• What percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under warranty

• That oral promises are difficult to enforce

• To get all promises in writing

• To keep the Buyer’s Guide for reference after the sale

• The major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, as well as some of the major problems customers should be aware of before purchasing

• To ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before they buy

The Buyer’s Guide must be posted prominently and conspicuously on or in a vehicle when a car is available for sale. This means it must be in plain view and that both sides must be visible. If you are using an outside service to affix your used-car guides, make sure you have a process that ensures a temporary guide is placed in the vehicle prior to the arrival of the outside service, especially if they only visit the lot once or twice a week.

Comment

  1. 1. JEFF HURLEY [ August 29, 2012 @ 11:01AM ]

    just got a monrony on a new prius with tint mats and a "sealant pack added by the distributor. It is on the monrony not an addendum ...legal ?

  2. 2. Laura Barnes [ November 10, 2014 @ 10:07AM ]

    I just bought a Genesis 5.0, and the Monroney sticker said it had a 6disc cd changer. Learned later it did not, dealer says oh well. Isn't there a law or requirement to have all features on the car as listed on sticker?

  3. 3. dan [ November 03, 2015 @ 03:13PM ]

    just bought a new car with a package that is stated on the monrony window sticker but one of the items in the package is not in the car. (High beam assit )what is my recourse ? the package was a $2110.00 upgrade.

  4. 4. jay smith [ March 08, 2016 @ 05:19PM ]

    I just purchased a 2016 new SUV that didn't have the Monrony sticker on or in the vehicle. I also was dealing with them on a AWD and they ended up giving me a FWD with out me noticing the change, I did not realize the error until I received the title. i brought this to their attention (the FWD issue) and they wanted to get me the AWD but they also wanted me to pay $5000 more for there mistake.. do i have a case of any kind?

  5. 5. jay smith [ March 08, 2016 @ 05:19PM ]

    I just purchased a 2016 new SUV that didn't have the Monrony sticker on or in the vehicle. I also was dealing with them on a AWD and they ended up giving me a FWD with out me noticing the change, I did not realize the error until I received the title. i brought this to their attention (the FWD issue) and they wanted to get me the AWD but they also wanted me to pay $5000 more for there mistake.. do i have a case of any kind?

  6. 6. jay smith [ March 08, 2016 @ 05:20PM ]

    I just purchased a 2016 new SUV that didn't have the Monrony sticker on or in the vehicle. I also was dealing with them on a AWD and they ended up giving me a FWD with out me noticing the change, I did not realize the error until I received the title. i brought this to their attention (the FWD issue) and they wanted to get me the AWD but they also wanted me to pay $5000 more for there mistake.. do i have a case of any kind?

  7. 7. Miguel Torres [ July 04, 2016 @ 03:55PM ]

    Does anyone know why 99% of Monroney stickers don't have the vehicle's horsepower listed? It's like the manufacturers are trying to hide it.

 

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