2012 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 56 - Motor Vehicles
Chapter 15 - REGULATION OF MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND DEALERS
Section 56-15-40 - Specific acts deemed unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices; Office of Administrator; appointment of personnel; enforcement.


SC Code § 56-15-40 (2012) What's This?

(1) It shall be deemed a violation of paragraph (a) of Section 56-15-30 for any manufacturer, factory branch, factory representative, distributor, or wholesaler, distributor branch, distributor representative or motor vehicle dealer to engage in any action which is arbitrary, in bad faith, or unconscionable and which causes damage to any of the parties or to the public.

(2) It shall be deemed a violation of paragraph (a) of Section 56-15-30 for a manufacturer, a distributor, a wholesaler, a distributor branch or division, a factory branch or division, or a wholesale branch or division, or officer, agent or other representative thereof, to coerce, or attempt to coerce, any motor vehicle dealer:

(a) To order or accept delivery of any motor vehicle or vehicles, appliances, equipment, parts or accessories therefor, or any other commodity or commodities which such motor vehicle dealer has not voluntarily ordered.

(b) To order or accept delivery of any motor vehicle with special features, appliances, accessories or equipment not included in the list price of said motor vehicles as publicly advertised by the manufacturer thereof.

(c) To order for any person any parts, accessories, equipment, machinery, tools, appliances or any commodity whatsoever.

(3) It shall be deemed a violation of paragraph (a) of Section 56-15-30 for a manufacturer, a distributor, a wholesaler, a distributor branch or division, a factory branch or division, or a wholesale branch or division, or officer, agent or other representative thereof:

(a) To refuse to deliver in reasonable quantities and within a reasonable time after receipt of dealer's order, to any motor vehicle dealer having a franchise or contractual arrangement for the retail sale of new motor vehicles sold or distributed by such manufacturer, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division or wholesale branch or division, any such motor vehicles as are covered by such franchise or contract specifically publicly advertised by such manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division, or wholesale branch or division to be available for immediate delivery; provided, however, the failure to deliver any motor vehicle shall not be considered a violation of this chapter if such failure be due to an act of God, work stoppage or delay due to a strike or labor difficulty, shortage of materials, freight embargo or other cause over which the manufacturer, distributor, or wholesaler, or any agent thereof, shall have no control.

(b) To coerce, or attempt to coerce, any motor vehicle dealer to enter into any agreement with such manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division, or wholesale branch or division, or officer, agent or other representative thereof, or to do any other act prejudicial to such dealer by threatening to cancel any franchise or any contractual agreement existing between such manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division, or wholesale branch or division, and such dealer; provided, however, that notice in good faith to any motor vehicle dealer of such dealer's violation of any terms or provisions of such franchise or contractual agreement shall not constitute a violation of this chapter.

(c) To terminate or cancel the franchise or selling agreement of any such dealer without due cause. The nonrenewal of a franchise or selling agreement, without due cause, shall constitute an unfair termination or cancellation, regardless of the terms or provisions of such franchise or selling agreement. Such manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division, or wholesale branch or division, or officer, agent or other representatives thereof shall notify a motor vehicle dealer in writing of the termination or cancellation of the franchise or selling agreement of such dealer at least sixty days before the effective date thereof, stating the specific grounds for such termination or cancellation; and such manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division, or wholesale branch or division, or officer, agent or other representative thereof shall notify a motor vehicle dealer in writing at least sixty days before the contractual term of his franchise or selling agreement expires that the same will not be renewed, stating the specific grounds for such nonrenewal in those cases where there is no intention to renew, and in no event shall the contractual term of any such franchise or selling agreement expire, without the written consent of the motor vehicle dealer involved, prior to the expiration of at least sixty days following such written notice. During the sixty-day period, either party may in appropriate circumstances petition a court to modify such sixty-day stay or to extend it pending a final determination of such proceedings on the merits. The court shall have authority to grant preliminary and final injunctive relief.

(d) To resort to or use any false or misleading advertisement in connection with his business as such manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division, or wholesale branch or division, or officer, agent or other representative thereof.

(e) To offer to sell or to sell any new motor vehicle to any motor vehicle dealer at a lower actual price therefor than the actual price offered to any other motor vehicle dealer for the same model vehicle similarly equipped or to utilize any device including, but not limited to, sales promotion plans or programs which result in such lesser actual price; provided, however, the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to sales to a motor vehicle dealer for resale to any unit of the United States Government, the State or any of its political subdivisions; and provided, further, the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to sales to a motor vehicle dealer of any motor vehicle ultimately sold, donated or used by such dealer in a driver education program; and provided, further, that the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply so long as a manufacturer, distributor, or wholesaler, or any agent thereof, offers to sell or sells new motor vehicles to all motor vehicle dealers at an equal price. This provision shall not apply to sales by manufacturer, distributor, or wholesaler to the United States Government or any agency thereof.

(f) To wilfully discriminate, either directly or indirectly, in price between different purchasers of a commodity of like grade or quality where the effect of such discrimination may be substantially to lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly or to injure or destroy the business of a competitor.

(g) To offer to sell or to sell parts or accessories to any new motor vehicle dealer for use in his own business for the purpose of repairing or replacing the same on a comparable part or accessory, at a lower actual price therefor than the actual price charged to any other new motor vehicle dealer for similar parts or accessories for use in his own business; provided, however, in those cases where motor vehicle dealers operate and serve as wholesalers of parts and accessories to retail outlets or other dealers, whether or not such dealer is regularly designated as a wholesaler, nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent a manufacturer, distributor, or wholesaler, or any agent thereof, from selling to such motor vehicle dealer who operates and services as a wholesaler of parts and accessories, such parts and accessories as may be ordered by such motor vehicle dealer for resale to retail outlets, at a lower actual price than the actual price charged a motor vehicle dealer who does not operate or serve as a wholesaler of parts and accessories.

(h) To prevent or attempt to prevent by contract or otherwise, any motor vehicle dealer from changing the capital structure of his dealership or the means by or through which he finances the operation of his dealership, provided the dealer at all times meets any reasonable capital standards agreed to between the dealership and the manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler, and provided such change by the dealer does not result in a change in the executive management of the dealership.

(i) To prevent or attempt to prevent by contract or otherwise, any motor vehicle dealer or any officer, partner or stockholder of any motor vehicle dealer from selling or transferring any part of the interest of any of them to any other person or persons or party or parties; provided, however, that no dealer, officer, partner or stockholder shall have the right to sell, transfer or assign the franchise or power of management or control thereunder without the consent of the manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler except that such consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.

(j) To obtain money, goods, services, anything of value, or any other benefit from any other person with whom the motor vehicle dealer does business, on account of or in relation to the transactions between the dealer and such other person, unless such benefit is promptly accounted for and transmitted to the motor vehicle dealer.

(k) To require a motor vehicle dealer to assent to a release, assignment, novation, waiver or estoppel which would relieve any person from liability imposed by this chapter.

(4) It shall be deemed a violation of paragraph (a) of Section 56-15-30 for a motor vehicle dealer:

(a) To require a purchaser of a new motor vehicle, as a condition of sale and delivery thereof, to also purchase special features, appliances, equipment, parts or accessories not desired or requested by the purchaser; provided, however, that this prohibition shall not apply as to special features, appliances, equipment, parts or accessories which are already installed on the car when received by the dealer; provided, further, that the motor vehicle dealer prior to the consummation of the purchase reveals to the purchaser the substance of this paragraph.

(b) To represent and sell as a new motor vehicle any motor vehicle which has been used and operated for demonstration purposes or which is otherwise a used motor vehicle.

(c) To resort to or use any false or misleading advertisement in connection with his business as such motor vehicle dealer.

(5) There is hereby created the Office of Administrator, within the Attorney General's office, and he shall appoint such personnel within his office for the purpose of regulating this chapter. The Administrator shall have the power to investigate, issue cease and desist orders and injunctive relief on any valid abuse connected with the sale, rental or leasing of a new or used motor vehicle; provided, however, this power shall only apply after reasonable attempts by the consumer have been made with the seller, dealer, manufacturer or lessor of the motor vehicle to alleviate the complaint.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-150.154; 1972 (57) 2419.

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