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Maine league Auto dealer yanks ad misrepresenting CUs
AUGUSTA, Maine (5/11/10)--An auto dealer’s unauthorized ad insert that misrepresented some Maine credit unions and ran in several editions of the Portland Press Herald last week will no longer run, according to the dealer’s attorney. The ad for Yankee Ford in South Portland, Maine, had a lead headline that said in bold print, “ATTENTION ALL CREDIT UNION MEMBERS,” said the Maine Credit Union League. The ad implied that 0% financing options were available at 12 credit unions it listed without obtaining authorization to use their names. It also made several mistakes, including misspelling of TruChoice FCU--listed as True Choice. The ad listed cPort CU twice--once as Seaport--and two other credit unions that have limited or no operations in Maine--Navy FCU and GTE FCU. The ad had solicited a quick rebuke from the Maine league and the Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions. “The Maine league got a response Friday from the Yankee Ford attorney, and he said the dealership would cease the practice of running unauthorized ads,” Jon Paradise, league manager of governmental and public affairs, told News Now. After conferring with the credit unions listed in the ad, the league found that none had approved the use of their names or inclusion in the ad, according to league president John Murphy. “The credit union brand and reputation was not only misrepresented but was done so in a misleading manner that attempts to capitalize on the strong and positive image of credit unions without their permission,” Murphy said. “With a nearly half a million dollars committed to our statewide awareness campaign this year, the league and member credit unions have made a significant investment in the credit union brand so we certainly have an obligation to protect these types of unauthorized actions.” In a letter to the owner of the dealership, the league's counsel, Rod Rovzar, wrote: “Your ad is violative of both state and federal (Lanham Act) law. The ad falsely represents an association, and at a minimum gives the public the perception of an association between Yankee Ford and the named credit unions and moreover, it falsely suggests that the credit unions have approved of their inclusion in the piece. The ad is an unfair (deceptive) trade practice.” Rovzar noted that several credit unions had received calls from members asking for the 0% financing. “This caused unnecessary confusion and embarrassment to the credit unions.” The ad also got the attention of the Bureau of Financial Institutions as a violation of Reg. Z “as terms were not actually at all creditors listed and of a new Maine Law that prohibits the unauthorized/deceptive use of financial institutions’ names by non-financial institution entities.” The bureau also sent a letter expressing its concerns to the dealership, the league said.


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