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What is the difference between sales puffery and material representation?  It could be the difference that determines whether you get sued or not for something said during the sales process. It really is a case-by-case issue, but there is a big difference between sales puffery and a material representation. In this article, we outline what to steer clear of and how to mitigate legal risk during the sales process.

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Material Representation vs. Sales Puffery

Material representation is a representation that the customer can actually rely on in purchasing the car. They can later come back and say, “Hey, I relied on that dealer statement. It turned out to be false and that’s fraud or that’s a violation of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act.”

Sales Puffery is anything not found to be a reliable statement. For example, “This is a good car” is considered sales puffery in the past in certain cases. Another prime example is describing a Corvette as follows: “It’s a piece of American history.” These are all examples of sales puffery given the loaded language and the fact that it’s not a reliable statement. These statements are also not material representations of that particular vehicle that could be relied on by the customer. They may come back against the dealer and say, “I bought the car because of the statement made by the dealer.” This is something that, again, is on a case-by-case basis but it’s important to know that there is a difference between a material representation and sales puffery.

What Harm Can Sales Puffery Cause?

A customer can say that sales puffery statements induced them to buy a vehicle and such a claim is considered a material misrepresentation that is actionable. In other words, the customer could sue for something like fraud. It is also important to note that if a customer receives a reliable material representation but that representation turns out to be false, and if it’s false, that representation could come back around to the dealer. Now, again, the risk and legitimacy of a customer vs dealer claims also depend on “as-is” language, merger clauses, and a whole bunch of other things. It really is a case-by-case issue, but understanding the difference between sale puffery and material representation is the start to keeping legal risk at bay for car dealers.

How We Can Help

If you are a Georgia-based car dealer looking for more support when it comes to sales puffery and material representation, book a strategy session with us here. We’ll personalize your counsel and guide you through everything to ensure your business is protected.

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Steven Lefkoff

Steven is the founder of Lefkoff Law and is committed to providing legal educational resources for businesses. Lefkoff Law serves Georgia-based small businesses and specializes in supporting car dealers.

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