Tag: CFPB

Clampdown Looms for F&I Markup

NADA recently published a policy guide for protection products and we should commend the association for being proactive.  Highlights are below but, if you’re a practitioner, you must read and heed the full document.

  • Consistent presentation, i.e. use a menu
  • Prominent disclosures like the AutoNation pledge
  • Consistent, non-discriminatory pricing
  • Detailed waiver explaining any variance from standard pricing

Why?  Because otherwise dealers and lenders may be prosecuted.  NADA cites the $11 million Santander GAP settlement and the U.S. Bank deceptive marketing settlement.  I can see this going the way of dealer reserve.  Regulators will force lenders to restrict dealers’ discretion in setting markups.

NADA and others have warned on F&I markup since 2013, when the CFPB issued its first subpoenas on the topic, and last year the National Consumer Law Center published their report, subtitled: How dealer discretion drives excessive, arbitrary, and discriminatory pricing.

The chart above is one of several alleging discriminatory pricing in F&I.  As for lender pressure, the NCLC paints a big target on Ally Financial, reminding their readers that “state and federal authorities should investigate … and bring enforcement actions.”

Good operators will not have much to change for the model policy.  The recommended new waiver is a bit cumbersome, but the rest of it is already best practice, like menu selling.  The AutoNation pledge has been around for fifteen years.  Frictionless cancellation is discussed here.

In addition to regulatory pressure, there is also competitive pressure on F&I markup.  I’ll cover that in a later post.  On the bright side, AutoNation is near $2,000 a copy and their compliance has always been excellent.  So, no excuses.

Cancellation Refund for Service Contracts

The last time you turned in your car, did you remember to get the refund on your service contract?  Me neither, and I have been in this business a long time.  The only way I know to get the refund is to dig up the paper contract and phone the provider.  It’s like the “breakage model” behind rebates and gift cards.

The first time I tried, professionally, to account for the refund was at GMAC Insurance prior to the bankruptcy.  I was working on an interface to do rate quotes.  Our plan was to detect the existence of a prior GMPP contract, and then apply the refund as a discount to the new contract.

Imagine how many vehicles are traded or repossessed and never see the end of their VSC or GAP contracts.  Actually, I don’t have to imagine, because I have statistics from Rich Apicella, who runs Express Recoveries.  This is an ingenious business model, leveraging the provider relationships of F&I Express to automate VSC refunds for lenders.

In case of a repossession, the refund from a product contract will reduce the deficiency balance.  What was once found money in the recoveries department is now a compliance requirement.  It never hurts to review the CFPB Examination Manual.  This is from page 42:

Recoveries

This is a great business for F&I Express, because it’s countercyclical.  Their main business is originating product contracts and then, when times are bad, they can earn some money cancelling them.  It’s also handy as a leading economic indicator.

Disclosure:  Intersection Technologies is a client and, although I am not working with Express Recoveries, Rich is just down the hall.