Responses from dealerships and automakers to W5's APA story
Below are email responses W5 received from dealerships as well as from the head offices of Honda, Nissan and Ford.
Response from RICHMOND HONDA:
Dear Ms. McNair,
We are writing to respond to your email to Ken Thai, our General Sales Manager, in which you state: “According to the APA, Richmond Honda failed this year’s survey for not having the advertised vehicle available and for adding extra fees to the advertised price of the vehicle.” We respectfully disagree with your assertions.
With respect to the first assertion, the manufacturer’s advertisement you are referring to states: “Dealer trade may be necessary on certain vehicles.” This indicates that the advertised vehicle may not be in each and every dealerships' current inventory. If a customer wishes to purchase an advertised vehicle that is not in stock, we would obtain the vehicle by dealer trade in a reasonable period of time. Honda advertising policies require that there be a sufficient supply of advertised vehicles in the overall dealer stock nationwide, to endeavour to ensure that customer demand is met.
Regarding your second assertion, the manufacturer’s advertisement states that: “Additional charges for waste disposal fees, environmental fees and handling charges (all of which may vary by dealer and/or vehicle) may apply.” The Sales Representative presented the customer with a quote for a weekly payment that included the battery and tire levy charges and the theft deterrent product that we offer to our customers as an optional addition to protect their vehicle from theft and to provide insurance coverage in the event of a theft of the vehicle (this product is fully disclosed in the documentation presented to the customer and the purchase of it requires the customer's signature to a separate contract). The Sales Representative mistakenly referred to the theft deterrent product as a "documentation fee".
The advertised weekly payment specifically states that the battery and tire levy charges - both of which are waste disposal/environmental fees charged by the government. - are extra. With respect to the theft deterrent product, the customer is given full disclosure of this product and its cost in our sales process and is required to sign a separate contract to purchase it, and therefore may specifically exclude it from the vehicle purchase.
We respectfully decline your interview invitation and we do not grant camera access to our premises.
Response from PACIFIC HONDA:
Dear Ms. McNair,
In your email you note that “According to the APA, Pacific Honda failed this year’s survey for not having the advertised vehicle available”. In the manufacturer’s advertisement you are referring to, it states “Dealer trade may be necessary on certain vehicles,” which indicates the advertised vehicle may not be in each and every dealerships current inventory. This is the case of the vehicle the APA shopper was looking for.
We did inform the shopper that we had that particular vehicle on-order from Honda Canada, and that it was due to arrive in April. If a client is unable or unwilling to wait for an on-order vehicle to arrive, we would then do as the ad suggests and locate one from another dealership via dealer trade.
With regards to the payment quote that was provided to the shopper, we acknowledge that the lease dollars were incorrectly applied as cash down and that a monthly payment was given based on a 20,000 km per year lease (as opposed to a weekly payment based on a 24,000 km lease that was in the ad.)
Leases have several variables: mileage, term, money down, etc., any and all of which will determine the final payment. Notwithstanding the error noted above, I must assume the information provided was based on the interaction with the shopper at the time. Clear communication and human error can always be a factor and this may come down to that.
At the end of the day there were inaccuracies. We do not however agree with the APA conclusion that this was a bait and switch based on vehicle availability, nor do we see anything in your correspondence to support that statement. Had this been an actual transaction, systematic checks and balances are in place to ensure paperwork is concluded in accordance with legal and manufacturer requirements, which would have ensured transparency and accuracy of the transaction.
We respectfully decline your interview offer nor do we grant camera access to our premises.
Response from NORTH VANCOUVER NISSAN:
Sorry for the late response. I contacted the VSABC (Vehicle Sales Authority of British Columbia) to ensure that the ad was in compliant with the advertising policies. It is, based on the guidelines. The ad was created (including the disclaimer) by Nissan Canada and also runs nationally. You can also view the same ad digitally on the national website for Nissan Canada. I apologize for Mr Oteng who is one of my brand new sales consultants. He is still learning and may have made a mistake in the verbiage during the presentation.
Further to this, the disclaimers are there to define the specifics of any offer. We find that a high percentage of clients do read it and enter our store knowing that there are additional charges. It seems unfortunate that the mystery shopper for the APA may not have fully read the disclosure and therefore made assumptions based on the large content of the ad. You may need to contact media services at Nissan Canada regarding the design and content of the ad.
North Vancouver Nissan
Second response from NORTH VANCOUVER NISSAN:
I looked into this further and we have no record of the quote and interaction between our sales associate and the APA in our customer and sales file. That being said, the price provided by the sales representative for the Micra S was based on the cash price for a vehicle immediately available on our lot. When we prepare a formal quote (which would be the next stage of the sales process, and on file), we review the various payment options, accessory options, etc. with the customer around each model. In this circumstance, that would also include pointing out that with purchase financing for the Micra S, there is $1,650 in incentives which offset freight and PDI.
Since my last email, I also reviewed the ad you forwarded again, and discovered the $399 documentation fee was omitted from the disclaimer. This was an oversight on our behalf and I sincerely apologize. I have discussed with my staff and added an additional level of review before any of our ads go to print, to avoid this from happening again.
We have reviewed the other facets of the ad which meet advertising guidelines within the province.
The paint fee (applied only to optional factory metallic colours), and the mats and wheel locks (which are optional accessories), and not included in the advertised price.
Tire and battery levies are mandated government fees as referenced in the disclaimer.
The freight fee and PDI are offset through incentives when the customer chooses the financing option.
At this time we will decline the request for an on-camera interview but appreciate this opportunity to clarify these details for you.
North Vancouver Nissan
Response from Honda Canada:
Please review our statement below.
At Honda Canada, we operate our advertising programs with the highest level of integrity. When creating advertising, we are committed to strict and good faith compliance with the governing legal and regulatory requirements.
Although we were not provided with a copy of the advertisement to which you refer, we believe it may be substantially similar to the one placed by Honda Canada (attached for your reference), which complies with applicable law. For your reference, vehicle availability and inventory mix may vary depending on local market demand. If the advertised vehicle is not readily available at a dealership, the dealer can advise the customer of the timing of an incoming unit or can procure the vehicle through a dealer-to-dealer trade. This is why Honda Canada advertising clearly indicates that a dealer order or trade may be necessary on certain vehicles.
We cannot comment on the specific customer interactions in question as they were conducted at independently owned and operated dealers.
Further, we cannot comment on the Automobile Protection Association (APA) annual survey, as we have not had an opportunity to review it.
We appreciate you reaching out to us to address your concern – however, we will respectfully decline the opportunity for an on-camera interview.
We have no further comments at this time.
Supervisor, Public Relations & Shows - Auto Honda Canada Inc.
Response from NISSAN CANADA:
I’m currently on vacation for March break so I apologize for the delay in getting back to you.
We haven’t been contacted by the APA or seen the report you reference, so we can’t respond specifically to that.
I can confirm that Nissan Canada is committed to providing its customers with great vehicles and an exceptional ownership experience. Our advertising is developed within the framework of relevant advertising standards and consumer protection regulations.
Nissan has achieved 27 consecutive months of record sales – based in large part on our ability to provide exceptional cars to Canadian drivers at competitive prices. Nissan’s advertising reflects the fact that our vehicle offers are as unique and diverse as the needs of our customers, and we are able to provide competitive pricing to meet those needs through a variety of options for vehicle purchase or lease – including finance-based purchasing, model configurations and accessories.
NIssan and its dealers are mutually committed to ensuring that we continue to meet the needs of Canadian consumers, and routinely review any comments about marketing and sales initiatives as part of ongoing business practice.
At this time, Nissan declines your request for an on-camera interview but appreciates this opportunity to clarify our position.
Senior Manager Corporate Communication
Nissan Canada Inc.
Response from FORD CANADA:
Unfortunately, Ms. Craig is not available for an on-camera interview but I wanted to provide some information – your question is quite timely.
Ford conducted research in Canada to find out directly from consumers how they felt about current vehicle advertising. In general, consumers are looking for a company that offers them increased simplicity and transparency in addition to products that will support their lifestyles. We found that many shoppers find advertised vehicle offers too complicated.
Based on our findings, our new advertising platform:
Advertises popular vehicle trim lines that dealers are stocking and selling, rather than simply advertising the lowest priced vehicle model
Simplifies the advertised offer – reduces the legal copy to only what is truly necessary and makes the language clear to the customer
Communicates product features and benefits to the consumer in their language, in a way that is relevant to their lives
The Windsor Star recently reported on Ford’s approach, I’ve included the link below for your reference:
Thanks for your interest,
Ford Motor Company of Canada