A glossy postcard from Honolulu Volkswagen was in the stack of mail waiting at the post office when we returned from our quick trip to Washington, D.C.
It announced, in large blue letters:
110% of book value*
This text followed:
We want your car!
110% of Blue Book when you trade in your car toward any new or pre-owned vehicle.
We’re not really in the market for a new car, but our car is getting up there in mileage. So I wondered what that little asterisk in the headline meant.
It was buried down at the bottom in fine print.
Of course. Fine print. Better check it out.
*Blue Book wholesale value — less market adjustments and reconditioning.
What? Is that false advertising?
The headline promises that they intend to buy your car for a price above Blue Book, but the fine print makes clear that you will not actually be paid 110% of Blue Book.
Unspecified and apparently arbitrary “market adjustments” will first be subtracted, along with “reconditioning” costs, again unspecified.
So the headline is modified–no, contradicted–by that fine print.
Misleading at best. False at worst, in my view.
Who should aggrieved consumers complain to?
Honolulu Volkswagen is a trade name owned by Hawaii Automotive Retailing Group, Inc., according to state business registration records.
The records show Hawaii Automotive Retailing Group is incorporated in Delaware. Inder Dosanjh, president and director. Sandy Tucker, secretary. Lianne Shimomi, director.
The company does business under a long list of trade names.
BIG ISLAND CHEVROLET Trade Name NO CATEGORY SELECTED Jun 10, 2009 Active
BIG ISLAND VOLKSWAGEN
BUICK OF HONOLULU
CADILLAC GMC BUICK OF HAWAII
CADILLAC GMC BUICK OF HONOLULU
CADILLAC OF HAWAII
CADILLAC OF HONOLULU
GMC OF HONOLULU
HAWAII AUTO GROUP
HONOLULU BUICK GMC CADILLAC
SATURN OF HONOLULU
SATURN OF HONOLULU
SMART CENTER HAWAII
SMART CENTER MAUI
SMART CENTER SALES OF HONOLULU
VOLKSWAGEN OF HAWAII
VOLKSWAGEN OF HONOLULU