Dealership’s prize promotion leads to $76K fine, DATCP says | Business
Metro Ford to pay forfeiture for problematic mailings
The state consumer protection group said a local car dealership will pay a fine for purported misleading prize promotions last year.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said the Wisconsin Auto Center, doing business as Metro Ford of Madison, will pay a civil forfeiture of $76,892.50 following alleged violations of state laws, including the prize notice law.
Beginning in August 2012, Metro Ford mailed tens of thousands of prize notices to residents of south central Wisconsin in five different mailings, according to a DATCP news release on Friday. The state agency said the mailings encouraged residents to meet with Metro Ford representatives to receive their prize and consider purchasing a vehicle.
However, the mailings did not disclose the total number of prizes to be given away or the verifiable retail value of each prize, DATCP said. The odds of winning each prize were calculated incorrectly and were printed in a smaller type size than required by law. The prize notices also did not disclose that a limited number of individuals were eligible for the prizes.
As part of the civil forfeiture agreement, Metro Ford did not admit to violating any Wisconsin laws, the DATCP news release said.
In a written statement dated Friday, Metro Ford spokeswoman Michelle Hill said the error in the mailers was discovered and Metro Ford had brought the incident to officials' attention.
"When we first became aware of a mistake, we stopped the promotional campaign and promptly self-reported the matter to state officials in two different departments," Hill said. "We also apologized to consumers who may have been inconvenienced.
"While we may disagree with the state’s conclusions, we have agreed to this forfeiture."
Hill also said Metro Ford is making changes to its creation of promotional materials and moving production of its printed materials back to Wisconsin to avoid mistakes in the future.