Ford brought proceedings over advertising by a non Ford authorised car dealer who imported cars from southern Europe, where they were registered and the one year manufacturer’s guarantee started to run.
Who: Ford, parallel Ford importer and the Gel Ford importer and the German Federal Supreme Court
When: July 1999
Ford brought proceedings over advertising by a non Ford authorised car dealer who imported cars from southern Europe, where they were registered and the one year manufacturer’s guarantee started to run. In some cases, five months of the guarantee term had expired by the time the cars were advertised. The defendant sought to address the point by small print in the ad saying "Commencement of the manufacturer’s guarantee as of date of delivery abroad, namely first registration."
The Supreme Court found for Ford, holding the ads misleading by not spelling out for the consumer the eroded guarantee. However, the Court did not require the precise start date of the guarantee period to be stated in the ad unless more than two weeks of it had expired by the time the ad appeared.
Why this matters:
Very recent reports received indicate that some of the less rational excesses of the German rebate and unfair competition laws (such as those forbidding two for the price of one offers) are now, at last, due for the legislative axe. The decision in this "parallel Ford" case, however, seems reasonably balanced and fair, bearing in mind the importance of the manufacturer’s guarantee in the overall mix of considerations driving the car purchase decision. Whether the UK's traditionally more "light touch" ASA or ITC would reach a similar decision, however, is another question.