Vehicle Protection Association Issues Enhanced Standards of Conduct for Automotive Service Contract Vendors

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Industry trade association modifies industry standards of conduct to further protect consumers.

The Vehicle Protection Association (VPA), an association formed to protect purchasers of automotive service contracts, today updated its Standards of Conduct for the vehicle service contract industry.

In 2009, the VPA adopted its initial Standards of Conduct with the goal of helping members to comply with federal and state laws and regulations, as well as helping to protect the best interests of the consumers. Membership in the VPA conveys a message to consumers that the member company follows the rules and does right by consumers. Membership in the industry association can be revoked if a VPA member violates the Standards of Conduct.

As originally drafted and adopted by the VPA, the Standards of Conduct include specific rules for advertising, representation of services, compliance with Federal Trade Commission and state regulations, compliant telemarketing, and a consumer complaint process, among other standards.

The newly adopted version of the Standards of Conduct covers such requirements as: clearer communications; enhanced refund policy requirements; required (criminal) background checks; increased prohibitions in advertising, including prohibition of a false sense of urgency in many areas; guidelines for using the term "warranty"; and an enhanced consumer complaint resolution process.

Changes to the standards extend the benefits to consumers who do business with VPA members. Notably, consumers will benefit from more transparency, better complaint resolution, clearer advertising, being able to differentiate between a vehicle service contract and an actual warranty, and other important improvements in the Standards of Conduct.

"This is an industry that offers considerable value to consumers who wish to protect their investment in their vehicle," said Larry Hecker, executive director of the VPA."The VPA's self-regulation process, coupled with continued scrutiny and cooperation from outside consumer protection entities, ensures that consumers are appropriately protected."

A copy of the VPA Standards of Conduct is available for public viewing at http://www.vpanet.org/images/VPA-Standards-of-Conduct.pdf.

Certification-Audit Program Improves Industry Transparency

In addition to its Standards of Conduct, the VPA's Certification-Audit Program allows consumers to determine whether a service contract vendor is in compliance with VPA standards.

Many VPA members have successfully undergone certification. The process includes a third-party compliance review that thoroughly evaluates the company's adherence to the VPA Standards of Conduct and applicable rules and regulations. A list of VPA certified-companies is available at http://www.vpanet.org/Certified-Companies.

"Through the VPA's Certification-Audit Program, consumers can immediately know which vehicle service contract vendors follow the rules," notes Hecker. "It's a signal to consumers that they can rest assured that they will be treated fairly by the vendor. Doing business with a non-certified vendor cannot be assured by the VPA, and we strongly encourage consumers to ask vendors whether they are certified by the VPA."

About the Vehicle Protection Association

The Vehicle Protection Association (VPA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing firms that are active in the automotive service contract industry. Members include service contract payment provider companies, marketers, administrators, insurers, and software providers. VPA currently has more than 50 member companies. The organization is committed to ensuring regulatory compliance among members, educating consumers on their rights, protecting consumers, and otherwise ensuring the integrity of the automotive service contract industry. For more information, visit http://www.vpanet.org.

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