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The Conundrum of Express, Informed Consent in the FTC CARS Rule

Car dealership scene with a sales representative explaining a document to a customer, highlighting the concept of Express Informed Consent and the importance of clear communication in car buying.

The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) CARS Rule (Combating Auto Retail Scams) aims to protect consumers from deceptive practices in car buying. However, one key provision, Express Informed Consent, is causing confusion and concern within the automotive industry.

This blog post dives into the complexities of Express Informed Consent, drawing insights from James Ganther's keynote address. We'll explore the challenges dealerships face and encourage you to watch the full video for a deeper understanding.

What is Express, Informed Consent?

What exactly is Express, Informed Consent under the FTC CARS Rule and why is it such a big deal? Let’s start with the definition. The Rule defines Express, Informed Consent as:

“An affirmative act communicating unambiguous assent to be charged, made after receiving and in close proximity to a Clear and Conspicuous disclosure, in writing, and also orally for in-person transactions, of the following:

  1. What the charge is for; and

  2. The amount of the charge, including, if the charge is for a product or service, all fees and costs to be charged to the consumer over the period of repayment with and without the product or service.”

The Rule further clarifies that the following do not constitute Express, Informed Consent:

  • A signed or initialed document, by itself;

  • Prechecked boxes; or

  • An agreement obtained through any practice designed or manipulated with the substantial effect of subverting or impairing user autonomy, decision-making, or choice.

The Problem: Lack of Clarity

The issue lies in the ambiguity surrounding what constitutes "Express, Informed Consent." Traditionally, a signed contract signified that a customer understood and agreed to its terms. However, the CARS Rule adds a layer of complexity to this notion, making it challenging for dealerships to ensure compliance.

A Call for Clarity

The current state of Express, Informed Consent creates a significant obstacle. The retail automotive industry needs clear and comprehensive guidelines to ensure fair and transparent transactions for all. Without this clarity, dealerships are left guessing and potentially facing severe penalties for non-compliance.

Watch the Full Video for Expert Insights

James Ganther's keynote address delves deeper into the challenges surrounding Express Informed Consent. Watch the full video to gain a more comprehensive understanding of this critical issue and its impact on the automotive industry.

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