VSA Industry Bulletin
May 7, 2024

Complaint and Investigation increases between April 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024

Dear Licensees,

The Vehicle Sales Authority is reporting an increase in consumer complaints. Between April 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024, the VSA received 1146 consumer complaints and completed 654 investigations. In comparison, between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023, the VSA received 867 consumer complaints and completed 553 investigations.

This is a 35% increase in consumer complaints and an 18% increase in investigations.

The VSA also wants to recognize that the number of substantiated complaints did not increase as significantly, with 167 complaints substantiated between April 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024, compared to 159 substantiated complaints in the prior year – a 5% increase. Taking more time to explain the documents and the transaction with your customer may help reduce general complaints.

The VSA is also reporting that more significant issues of non-compliance are being reported by consumers and by dealers.

Some things to watch out for:

  • Misrepresenting consumer income, assets, and liabilities to financial institutions to qualify consumers for financing,
  • In some cases, dealers submitting one set of documents to financial institutions to gain financing, but showing the consumers another set of documents,
  • Extraordinarily high mark-ups on insurance and warranty products that cannot be explained or justified, 
  • Adding additional pricing, such as market adjustment fees, in the business office which were never advertised or agreed to by the consumer, and
  • Dealers undertaking to pay out liens on a trade-in, but not doing so for several months (one case was over one year).

The VSA wishes to remind dealers of their legal obligations for transparent advertising, making truthful representations about the transaction, and not engaging in the falsification of credit applications to get consumers qualified. If a consumer does not qualify for financing on their own merit, they do not qualify. On this last point, one dealer received a $75,000 administrative penalty and bought back the vehicle for falsifying documents. A few years ago, another dealer received $60,000 in administrative penalties, a 30-day suspension and bought back the vehicle for similar conduct. If a dealer undertakes to do something for a consumer, such as pay off a loan on a trade-in (lien), that is a representation by the dealer that must be followed through with.

In many cases, the issue seemed to be an employee who was not being properly overseen at the dealership. The VSA recommends all dealers ensure they have proper checks and balances on the levels of authority for staff decision making and a means to audit sales done by staff to ensure compliance. Currently, we would emphasize extra due diligence on financed deals. We remind dealers that they are responsible and liable for the conduct of their staff.

We appreciate the few dealers who have recently brought to our attention salespersons who have taken advantage of their position at their dealerships, so that we can take appropriate action against that salesperson’s license; to protect the public and the reputation of the industry.