TECHNICAL ADVISORY

DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

To:  DMV Regional Offices

From:  Carl A. Ford, Director

Subject:  Private Tag Agency Fees on Buyer’s Order

Advisory Date:  04/18/06                               Implementation Date:  Immediately

Advisory Number:     BFO06-02

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

                        Many times we are asked the question about whether it is permissible for a motor vehicle dealer to include in the buyer’s order, purchase form or contract an item that reads “Title and Registration Fees (including private tag agency fee of $XX.XX).”

 

                        The Department would regard this item as a violation of section 320.27(9)(b)3., Florida Statutes in that it is a “Misrepresentation or false, deceptive, or misleading statements with regard to the sale or financing of motor vehicles which any motor vehicle dealer has, or causes to have, advertised, printed, displayed, published, distributed, broadcast, televised, or made in any manner with regard to the sale or financing of motor vehicles.”

 

                        The Department believes that it is misleading because it gives the buyer the impression that the private tag agency fee is a statutorily mandated title or registration fee, when it is clearly no such thing.  This violation would be grounds for suspension or revocation of the dealer license under section 320.27(9), Florida Statutes or the imposition of a fine of $1,000 per violation under section 320-27(12), Florida statutes.  The department is also empowered to obtain an injunction under section 320.27(11).

 

                        In addition, this practice would be a violation of section 501.976(11), Florida Statutes, which requires that all charges or fees permitted to be added to the cash price of a motor vehicle by Rule 3D-50.001 (renumbered as Rule 69V-50.001) Florida Administrative Code, be “fully disclosed” to the customer.  Section 501.976 declares such violations to be unfair or deceptive acts or practices under the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.  Thus, commingling the private tag fee with the statutory taxes and fees in the way described in paragraph one of this technical advisory will subject the dealer to a civil penalty in the amount of $10,000 per violation under section 501.2075, Florida Statutes ($15,000 for a buyer who is 60 years old or older or who is handicapped under section 501.2077), injunction under section 501.207, attorney’s fees under section 501.2105 and damages under section 501.211.

 

Only state assessed fees should be included under the category of "title and registration fees" on the purchase form, buyer’s order or contract.  Add-on fees such as "private agency fees" should be placed in its own category or some other dealer fee category so the customer is provided the ability to identify optional or negotiable fees.

 

            In addition, if the buyers order, purchase form or contract has a generic field that reads “Title and Tag Fees” with a generic amount, e.g. $150.00 and the actual cost to process the title and tag was $125.00, the dealer is required to refund the difference.  A dealer can only charge the purchaser the actual amount of fees authorized by statues for title and registration transfers.  Overcharging of these fees (without refunding the difference) is unlawful and could result in disciplinary action against the dealer’s license.

 

If you have any questions or need further clarification, please contact your Help Desk Representative.

CAF/jwc