The Industry's Leading Source For F&I, Sales And Technology

Top News

More Dealers Videotaping F&I

July 3, 2001

More auto dealers are videotaping the F&I sales process, a move that alarms privacy advocates, according to USA Today.

Dealers say there's no need to worry, that they are taping the final sales transactions simply to:

* Prevent their finance and insurance staff -- the people who generally handle document signing -- from overselling extras or misleading customers.

* Make sure customers fully understand what they are buying.

* Make sure all extras are offered to every customer.

* Handle claims that customers were mistreated or lied to.

"I wanted to be sure that we were properly disclosing the transaction that took place in that office," Bob Giles, a Nissan dealer in Lafayette, La., told USA Today.

But some privacy advocates question the practice. Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, says more businesses are installing cameras to monitor staff and customers, but that "pushes the envelope of acceptable business practices."

Michael Howell, president of Auto Gap, a Madisonville, La., dealer management firm, began selling a video camera setup 3 years ago. He has 50 dealers in 18 states signed up. Dealers who use Auto Gap's extended warranty program get the cameras as part of the deal.

The dealers post a sign telling the customer that the transaction will be videotaped for security and training purposes. Howell advises dealers to turn off the camera if a customer complains.

Rotenberg says consumers should have a right to say they don't want to be videotaped and that the signs should be posted prominently.

One privacy concern is that dealers may spy on customers as they debate the merits of the deal when the finance person steps away. "People ought to be able to have a conversation out of earshot of the microphones," said Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Dealers say they don't monitor sales as they occur and don't coach staff in the middle of a transaction, and that tapes have helped customers as well as themselves.

Allen Krake, a Ford dealer in Metairie, La., told USA Today he bought back a $35,000 Ford Expedition because the customer thought he was buying, not leasing, and the videotape backed the customer.

Some dealers want to make sure finance staff aren't selling customers monthly payments before disclosing that the price includes extras like an extended warranty and life insurance.

Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email: