New guidelines set by the Western Michigan Better Business Bureau could help credit challenged car buyers by not allowing misleading ads that target used car trade in values

Deceptive Advertising in Car Buying

Better Business Bureau Helps Western Michigan Car Buyers

At Auto Credit Express we're on the record in denouncing misleading advertising.

Phrases such as "Guaranteed Approval" and "Instant Credit Approval" are nothing more than empty promises that are meant to lure people looking to secure bad credit financing into filling out a credit application.

For one, no one can guarantee the approval of an application for car credit without first knowing that person's credit score and viewing their credit report. If they do, its because they've already discounted your credit and intend to charge you the maximum they possibly can regardless of what your score actually is.

In the case of "All Applications Accepted" also means absolutely nothing since "accepting" an application and "approving" an application are two very different things. Just because an application is accepted does not mean it's approved and it certainly doesn't guarantee an approval, either.

Car dealer advertising can also cross that thin line between promise and deception – a topic that was recently addressed by the Western Michigan Better Business Bureau working in conjunction with the Grand Rapids and Holland New Car Dealers associations. While this change will affect only a small portion of our readers, we wanted to share it with everyone to better understand some of the mis-practice going on.

Trade-in Advertising

A new set of guidelines announced on September 10th by the Western Michigan BBB will prohibit dealers (as of this writing just the franchised new car dealers in Grand Rapids and Holland) from either naming a specific dollar amount or a range of money for trade-ins in any of their advertisements.

Those ads may be effective in generating showroom traffic, but they're deceptive because they don't spell out the fact that the value of a trade-in can vary depending upon a vehicle's age, mileage and condition.

Advertisements prohibited by the new guidelines include:

  • "Minimum Guaranteed ($1,500) for your trade-in" or "($1,500) Minimum Trade Value"
  • "At least ($2,500) for your trade-in"
  • "We'll give you ($2,000) for your trade, regardless of its condition"
  • "Push, pull or tow (drag) - we'll give you ($1,000)"
  • "Cash for Clunkers" or "Clunker Cash"

Small Beginnings

At this point, the program is still narrow in scope, as its limited to just the two dealer groups on the west side of Michigan. As such, only franchised new car dealerships are part of the program. This means some of the worst offenders - non-franchised used car-only dealers comprised of small rent to own and buy here pay here dealers – are not included.

But in all fairness, the BBB had to start somewhere and it has yet to approach those dealers regarding the new guidelines and, in any event, this is a start.

According to Western Michigan BBB President & CEO Phil Catlett, new car dealers in the Traverse City area have been contacted, but so far the bureau has received no response.

The Bottom Line

Especially for car buyers with problem credit, anything that makes the car buying process more transparent is a good thing. So a tip of the hat to the Western Michigan Better Business Bureau as well as the Grand Rapids and Holland New Car Dealers associations for making things easier for car buyers on the west side of the Great Lakes State.

Another good thing: Auto Credit Express helps consumers with credit issues find those dealers that can offer them their best opportunities for auto loan approvals. So if you're ready to reestablish your credit, you can begin now by filling out our online car loan application<.