Franchise and dealership law is highly complex and can vary in a number of ways. When it comes to litigation, skilled commercial litigators apply specialty knowledge on behalf of franchisees and dealers to improve relationships and operations in their specific industries.
Franchise and dealership law is impacted by federal and state laws, regulations and statutes that can be frustrating to navigate without the help of a skilled franchise and dealership attorney. At the federal level, franchises and dealerships are affected by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), antitrust laws, along with other statutes and regulations that can change based on industry. At the state level, common law doctrines and statutes are often in place to protect dealers across a wide range of industries that can have a significant impact on clients and their business relationships.
Thrift & McLemore advances creative approaches to both franchised and licensed dealerships to manage all customer-related legal and commercial issues.
Common Franchise and Dealership Disputes
Common situations that we see related to franchise/dealer disputes include:
- A sales customer attempts to back out of a deal after signing, despite dealer compliance with Regulation Z
- A customer attempts to get out of paying (all or part) of his service bill by incorrectly claiming a certain part or service is covered under warranty.
- A customer is posting defamatory or false information on the Internet.
- A customer is demanding the lower price he found on the Internet, pre- or post- purchase.
- A customer is claiming that a Sales or F&I employee represented something untrue or failed to disclose a material (or more typically, immaterial) “fact,” and is threatening legal or other action
- You wish to repossess a car where financing was turned-down, when unable to give adequate notice to the customer.
- Binding arbitration not being present in sales and service paperwork. Not having comprehensive release language in service paperwork.
- Missing certain sales documents – i.e. the “Binding Delivery Agreement.”
- Not having comprehensive release language in standard consumer settlement documents. Absence of enforceable liquidated damages clauses for termination of deal or non-payment. Improper and unenforceable disclaimer language.
- Outdated (and incorrect) references to State and Federal statutes, laws and regulations.
- Dealerships not recording the F&I sales process and signing process.
- Your dealership is sued in connection with the Lemon Law.
- Your dealership receives a notice from the department of consumer affairs, or related agency. Your dealership receives a notice the state attorney general’s office.
- A claim is made with the division of motor vehicles.
- A complaint is made with the BBB, the NFIB or related agency.
Legal Services Offered
Thrift & McLemore has been recognized as a leader in dealership customer dispute resolution and consumer issue management. Our team of highly capable attorneys is each committed to providing the best outcome to our clients through the application of creative problem solving paired with rational solutions. Our aim is to always think outside the box, while ensuring that every legal approach is attainable and meets our client’s individuals needs and best interests.
When it comes to franchise and dealership law, many firms may choose to focus their efforts on only one side of the distribution channel, but at Thrift & McLemore, we believe that every client is deserving of our full attention and quality representation. Since our focus is broader in range, our attorneys have been able to litigate for and consult across a wide number of industries and client needs. This has allowed us to draw on our knowledge from all sides of franchise, dealership and distribution law to effectively advocate and represent our clients no matter their position in the distribution channel.
Through unique legal solutions and exceptional industry expertise, Thrift & McLemore (1) reduces dealership liability exposure; (2) improves dealership profitability; (3) defends the dealership “public domain”; (4) ensures compliance with government and agency consumer laws and regulations; (5) strengthens relationships between dealerships and consumer agencies; and (6) manages traditional dealership legal matters.
Thrift & McLemore also has specific legal expertise in the following areas:
- Customer sales disputes (deals that have “gone south”)
- Customer service disputes, warranty issues, reputation issues
- Government agency inquiries
- Administrative agency inquiries
- Removing unwanted information from the Internet and other media outlets (cease and desist letters)
- BBB and NFIB inquiries
- Truth in Lending Act/Regulation Z
- DMV complaints
- Consumer affairs matters
- Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Small claims hearings
- Consumer advertising compliance
- Warranty parts reimbursement
- Identity theft detection and prevention
- Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (Red Flags Rule)
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- Vehicle sales and finance practices
- Consumer Leasing Act/Regulation M
- F&I compliance, including Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (information sharing and FTC’s Privacy and Safeguards Rules)
- Equal Credit Opportunity Act/Regulation B
- Lemon Law defense
- Consumer leasing agreement
- FTC inquiries
One of the aspects of our firm that makes us unique is that we work tirelessly to keep our legal rates low for our clients while still maintaining high quality services and exceptional outcomes. We believe that our client’s success in business is directly linked to our own success and each and every case is approached by first learning the background of our clients, their current issues and their future goals. This allows us to provide legal counsel and develop plans of action that are in line with what our clients want in the long-term, rather than simply solving the problem currently presented.
We also encourage our clients to use us “early and often”—and while that might sound more expensive in the long-run, keeping our dedicated team up to date leads to fewer complications and confusion later on, which can often run up costs and result in rushed decision making on the part of the client.
By using us early and often, costs are reduced by needing fewer hours to get up to date on the case, we’re able to work with our clients to develop a plan early on in the process so that budget and time constraints are met from start to finish, and we can give each client the time and attention they are deserving of.
The sooner we’re involved, the better.
Rather than looking at our firm as an emergency resource, bringing us in as an extension of your business can reduce risk, improve operations and ensure that all of your legal bases are covered to protect your interests in the short and long-term.
For more information on our franchise and dealership legal services, contact us directly at our Atlanta or Kennesaw offices.