Center for Auto Safety Testimony to Federal Trade Commission July 21, 2021

Center for Auto Safety Testimony to Federal Trade Commission July 21, 2021

Good afternoon. My name is Jason Levine and I am the Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety, the nation’s leading independent non-profit organization fighting for consumer protection and vehicle safety since 1970. On behalf of our members across the country we appreciate the opportunity to bring three separate consumer protection issues to the Commission’s attention today:

  1. The Right to Repair

We agree with the Commission’s unanimous conclusion that repair restrictions are rarely adequately justified and believe that consumer choice is beneficial to the safety of every driver, passenger, and pedestrian on the road. Competition for consumer business in the vehicle repair field has generally led to greater consumer choice and better prices. Such competition is an excellent incentive to ensure the quality of repairs at both independent and manufacturer licensed repair shops.

For more information on the Center’s views on the Right to Repair, see: https://www.autosafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/CAS-QFR-Response-May-18-2021-EC-CPC-Hearing.pdf

  1. Tesla’s Deceptive Practices

It has been almost three years since we brought to this agency’s attention that a vehicle manufacturer, Tesla, was violating section 5 and putting the lives of consumers in danger by using deceptive terminology, like “Autopilot” to describe vehicle features. While the FTC has refused to announce what enforcement action it will take, consumers continue to be deceived and there have been multiple unnecessary deaths and injuries. The time has come to stop this deception.

For more information on the Center’s request for the FTC to investigate Tesla for deceptive advertising practices, see: https://www.autosafety.org/ftc_investigation_request_tesla_autopilot/  

  1. Consent Orders Protecting Commerce Instead of Consumers

In 2016, your predecessors accepted terms to settle an investigation into used car dealerships which were deceptively advertising vehicles with unrepaired recalls, like defective brakes or ignition switches. Instead of forcing these actors to stop unfairly marketing dangerous vehicles as “safe,” the FTC blessed the practice of selling known dangerous vehicles as “safe” for a few used car dealers, thus encouraging this anti-consumer practice nationwide. The time has come to undo these anti-consumer consent orders.

For more information about the Center’s efforts to protect consumers by undoing the 2016 consent orders, see: https://www.autosafety.org/auto-safety-consumer-organizations-sue-federal-trade-commission/

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The Center for Auto Safety was founded in 1970 in Washington, DC as a member supported, national, independent, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy for all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Over the last 51 years, the Center has successfully led the fight for lemon laws in every state, airbags in every vehicle, and recall repairs being made at no cost to the consumer. For 40 years the Center published The Car Book, America’s most comprehensive car buying guide focused on safety, and in that spirit now offers the custom Vehicle Safety Check providing regular safety updates and hard-to-find service alerts on vehicle safety issues. To learn more about the Center, please visit www.AutoSafety.org.