The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) and regulations promulgated by the Division of Consumer Affairs requires auto dealers to keep records of advertisements for the sale and lease of motor vehicles for 180 days after a transaction has taken place. Dealers must also make those records available for inspection by the Division of Consumer Affairs, along with records of the sale or lease.
The CFA defines advertisement as “the attempt directly or indirectly by publication, dissemination, solicitation, indorsement, or circulation or in any other way to induce directly or indirectly any person to enter or not enter into any obligation or acquire any title or interest in any merchandise or to increase the consumption thereof or to make any loan.” The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Advertising Practices Regulations further defines advertisement to include the above regarding motor vehicles appearing in a newspaper, periodical, pamphlet, circular, or other publication, paper, sign or radio or television broadcast, which offers motor vehicle for sale or lease at retail.
The 180-day record retention requirement stems from the CFA’s and New Jersey Motor Vehicle Advertising Practices Regulations’ prohibition against Bait and Switch and a specific section requiring the retention of record of transactions. It is per se Bait and Switch if a dealer refuses to show, display, sell, or lease an advertised motor vehicle in accordance with the terms of an advertisement, unless the vehicle has been sold or leased during the period of publication. For this reason, the regulations require the dealer to retain records of the sale or lease for 180 days following the transaction and make those records available for inspection by the Division of Consumer Affairs. These record retention requirements are separate from the overall requirement to keep the contents of deal jackets for seven (7) years.
There is an express record retention requirement in the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations. There is a requirement to have a motor vehicle advertised for sale or lease on premises of the dealership and available at the advertised price during the period of publication or have a record of the sale or lease of that vehicle at the advertised price or less during the period of publication. A record of the sale or lease must consist of all applicable advertisements and a copy of the executed contract with the purchaser or lessee of the vehicle and be maintained for 180 days after the transaction. The regulations also require notification to consumers who inquire about the advertised vehicle by telephone or in person, that the advertised vehicle was sold or leased during the period of publication.
If dealers have questions about this topic or any other questions, they can contact Greyson P. Hannigan, NJ CAR’s Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs at (609) 883-5056 – ext. 340 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.