RALEIGH, N.C. — A Louisiana company that misled North Carolina consumers with its advertisements for used-car sales events has been permanently banned from automobile advertising and marketing in North Carolina, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced this week.
“Using false promises and bogus prizes to lure customers is no way to do business,” Cooper said. “Consumers deserve straight-forward information when they’re preparing to make such a big purchase.”
Under a consent judgment signed by Wake County Superior Court Donald W. Stephens, Level 10 Marketing and its owner David M. Bottner are permanently banned from engaging in any advertising or promotional business with new or used automobile dealerships in North Carolina. If they fail to live up to the judgment, they will be obligated to pay a penalty of $40,000.
North Carolina joined Arizona, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon and Pennsylvania in bringing the case.
As alleged in Cooper’s complaint, Level 10 Marketing sold advertising and sales packages to North Carolina auto dealers designed to increase used-vehicle sales. The advertisements falsely claimed that the sales events involved vehicles brought in from elsewhere by using terms such as “lender’s inventory sale” or “repossessed vehicle event.” The company used other misleading terms to create a false sense of urgency, such as “emergency disposal” and “liquidation,” according to the complaint.
Company advertisements also claimed that used vehicles would be sold at “90 percent off original price,” with the company basing the discount on the vehicle’s original Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), according to the complaint. The firm also falsely claimed that “some vehicles will be available for $1 down, $114 per month.” These ads routinely misrepresented the cost of the vehicles and the ability of consumers to obtain financing.
“If you’re shopping for a new car, look at car ads carefully,” Cooper said. “Knowing the rules for auto ads can help you avoid being taken for a ride.”