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Fastlane Auto fined $18,000 for misleading offer

Fastlane Auto fined $18,000 for misleading car offer

Auckland-based car dealer Fastlane Auto Limited was fined $18,000 plus $880 costs in the Waitakere District Court on Friday for six breaches of the Fair Trading Act.

The Commerce Commission laid the charges against Fastlane Auto for failing to adequately disclose that a $5,000 minimum trade-in offer did not apply to all vehicles on its yard, and that financial terms were not readily available as advertised.

Fastlane Auto made the claims through advertising in the Auto Trader magazine between January and July 2000, and through representations to at least one customer at the car yard.

Director of Fair Trading Deborah Battell said the claims made by Fastlane Auto were misleading because there were a number of conditions that applied to both the $5,000 trade-in and the financial terms that altered the offer significantly.

“Misleading claims are unfair on consumers and competitors. Consumers, enticed to a business by misleading advertising, may be disadvantaged because they could have got a better deal elsewhere. Competitors who play by the rules are disadvantaged because they have lost the opportunity to make a sale,” she said.

In sentencing, Judge Bouchier emphasised that the Act must be seen to have teeth and that the advertisements were clearly misleading.
Background Fastlane Auto offered financial terms of various weekly payments over a three year term. This offer did not, however, disclose specific term and conditions on the finance, which were: finance was only to approved borrowers; vehicles over ten years old could only be financed over two years; the weekly payments quoted were not always available, as they were dependent on the amount of the deposit.

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