Manitoba enacts law to protect car buyers — 2½ years after first announcing it
The Manitoba government has finally moved to put new regulations in place to help protect families from false advertising and misleading pricing practices when purchasing a motor vehicle.
The new law, which takes effect June 1 and will require dealers to use all-in pricing — so no fees remain hidden — was first revealed by the province in December 2012.
At that time, Premier Greg Selinger said the rules would take effect in the fall of 2013. On Thursday, Consumer Protection Minister Ron Lemieux said the extra year and a half was used to make sure the legislation was done right.
Basically, the most important change for car buyers is that the price advertised online, in the paper, or in person will always be the final price, except for taxes. The PST and GST will be added on top of that.
Buying a car is a significant purchase for families, typically the second-largest purchase after buying a home, Lemieux said Thursday in announcing the new rules.
It is important that consumers have clear and truthful information available to them when making these purchasing decisions, he said.
"We are pleased to have developed these new regulations in consultation with industry, stakeholders, consumer groups and other provinces with existing motor vehicle advertising legislation," Lemieux said.
Current vehicle advertising practices, such as omitting additional fees, charges, or conditions from prices, can be misleading or confusing for consumers, Lemieux said.
The new rules will improve the transparency when deciding to purchase a new vehicle and raise the standard of advertising in the marketplace, he added.
Car buyer Pat Willison welcomed the system, saying it would bring clarity to pricing.
"It's disappointing of course because you think you're going to get a car for a certain price and there's all the add ons. You don't feel so great, right?!" Willison told the CBC.
The system, Willison said, should be effective provided fines are applied consistently.
"You go on volume. That could get pretty expensive. Hopefully they would. right?"
The law will require vehicle dealers to:
- Ensure that advertisements indicate the total price of a vehicle, including all additional charges, except for the retail sales tax and the federal goods and services tax.
- Ensure that an advertisement about a used late-model vehicle indicates that it is a used vehicle.
- Not engage in false advertising or provide false information about a vehicle.
- Only advertise a vehicle currently in the dealer's inventory.
- Indicate the time period applicable to limited time offers.
- Indicate the number of vehicles available at a specified price if the number of vehicles is limited.
- Not set out payment information in an advertisement more prominently than the total price.
- Disclose in the advertisement if the vehicle was ever declared salvage or used as a short-term rental or emergency vehicle.