David Stanley was fined $350,000 for misleading, deceptive advertising…
10:57 AM EDT on August 19, 2014
Did you hear about David Stanley Chrysler Jeep Dodge getting hit with that record fine for airing deceptive and misleading commercials?
What's that? You get most of your news from the Oklahoma City media, plus you've gone deaf from listening to all the obnoxious David Stanley commercials they play night and day? Oops. Sorry about that. Should have known.
In what appears to be a TLO exclusive, we've learned via the Ogle Mole Network that David Stanley Chrysler Jeep Dodge agreed to pay a $350,000 fine in March of 2014 for allegedly violating eight state regulations designed to protect consumers from misleading advertising practices.
According to this document, the violations include deceptive, inaccurate and bait-and-switch forms of advertising.
The commercials in question ran in January 2014 and offered eye rolling, too-good-to-be-true deals that offered to pay $18,000 in the car buyer's credit card debt if they bought a car.
I forwarded the settlement agreement to one of my lawyer friends, Attorney Jacob Rowe, and this is what he had to say:
These ads together make it look to the layman that David Stanley was going to take $12k off the sticker price of a truck and pay $18K worth of credit cards to boot. They also made it appear that the $18k deal was for all new vehicles. It also looks like they only had two vehicles that were subject to the promo.
I checked YouTube for the commercials, but they're gone. I did find a similar promotion offering to pay off $20,000 in credit card debt. Here it is:
Whenever I watch a David Stanley commercial, I kind of want hang out with the ghost of Lynn Hickey in a van atop a crane and cry like a girl. If that sounds strange, it's sure beats the alternative of smashing up my TV like it's a car at The Key.
The apparent reason for the steep $350,000 fine is the Motor Vehicle Commission, which is basically comprised of auto dealers, has allegedly had a long, ongoing problem with David Stanley regarding their advertising.
According to a source, Stanley was totally content with pushing the envelope and paying small fines each month because the ads brought in so much in new revenue. They are perhaps the top-selling auto group in the state, and high volume, gimmicky specials like paying off your credit card is a big reason why.
Now that they've been busted, I assume that may change. According to the Ogle Mole Network, the commission has threatened to revoke or suspend David Stanley's new auto license if the deceptive ads continue. That would be like Braum's doing away with crinkle-cut fries, or a strip club requiring its dancers stay fully clothed. It would destroy the business.
As a result, David Stanley has agreed to have all future advertising approved by the company's general counsel, Toby Flowers. I'm sure that will keep them in line . Also, I guess we now know who has the worst job in Oklahoma City.
"What do you do for a living?"
"Oh, I watch Rob Stanley run around with the guy from Duck Dynasty and think of suicide."
From what I can tell, this story has not appeared anywhere in the local media. Repeat: Anywhere. I've performed several Google searches, and although the settlement occurred in March, everything turns up empty. I can't find a report from any newspaper, radio station or television news channel.
Obviously, that shouldn't come as a surprise. David Stanley Auto Group is one of the largest media buyers in town. According to an Ogle Mole that works in the advertising industry, they can spend anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 per month on local web, print, radio and TV advertising. I'll do the math for you. That's $3.6-million to $6-million a year... on advertising... that may or may not be predatory and deceptive. It's even more if you get the clear coat finish.
That's actually some delicious irony right there. While our TV news channels send their "In Your Corners," "I-Teams" and "Consumer Watchers" to track down the contractor who didn't finish a flooring job and ran away with some old lady's hard-earned $1,000, the car dealership that advertises during the commercial break is using bait-and-switch advertising gimmicks and other deceptive tactics to lure consumers into high interest, ripoff, life-ruining auto purchases and loans. I guess never forget who the for-profit media really serves.
Of course, you can't blame the media for not reporting any of this. If someone sent me pics of Jonathan Fowler selling Patricia's products at Tapwerks, I'd find a way to overlook that email. That's how the advertiser-media relationship is supposed to work in this town, right? You support me and I ignore you. Well, unless you need good PR. Then I'll help you out.
Plus, all car dealerships get fined for some advertising violation. It's like the holding penalty for auto dealers. You can probably find a violation in every ad. Check out some of the punishments levied at recent Department of Motor Vehicle meetings:
If a $500 slap on the wrist is a holding penalty, the $350,000 fine would be like running into the stands and attacking a fan. Seriously, the settlement David Stanley reached with the Motor Vehicle Commission ($325,000) is 17,500-percent larger than the fine they levied on Jim Norton Toyota ($2000). At least I think that's the right number. Let me step away and ask my manager...