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Considerations When Working with Spanish Speaking Customers

Hispanic customers are one of the fastest growing demographics in Texas. Many of those customers rely on Spanish as their primary language. When dealing with Spanish speaking customers, dealers need to take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.

Tax, title, and registration. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and the Texas Transportation Code currently only require English for use in filing of vehicle title documents.  However, caution should still be undertaken when speaking with Spanish speaking customers regarding a vehicle transaction.  When you or a sales representative speak with a customer, they should still undertake the same precautions about making representations that may contradict your no-warranty policies and trigger a Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
 
As-Is “En Espanol?”  and the Federal Used Car Rule's Spanish Requirements
 
Car dealers who sell used vehicles must comply with the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC's) Used Car Rule. In fact, car dealers who sell, or offer for sale, more than five used vehicles in a 12-month period must comply with the Rule. NOTE:  If you conduct a used car transaction in Spanish, you should post a Spanish language Buyers Guide on the vehicle before you display or offer it for sale.
 
REMEMBER: The Buyers Guide must be displayed prominently and conspicuously on or in a vehicle when a car is available for sale. This means it must be in plain view and both sides must be visible. You can hang the Guide from the rear-view mirror inside the car or on a side-view mirror outside the car. You also can place it under a windshield wiper. The Guide also can be attached to a side window. A Guide in a glove compartment, trunk or under the seat is not conspicuous because it is not in plain sight.
 
FINANCING VEHICLES DOES TRIGGER SPANISH REQUIREMENTS (OCCC)
The requirements above apply to both retail and financing of auto sales. If you finance a vehicle (buy-here / pay-here) then you may have to meet additional requirements for Spanish translations.  There are several reasons to provide a Spanish copy of the contract in those situations where the deal is negotiated primarily in Spanish. The following situations may make your contract difficult to enforce or subject to litigation:
 
1.            The deal was negotiated entirely in Spanish with the customer, and all the documents signed for the car purchased are in English; or
2.            A customer relied on the salesperson to orally communicate in Spanish what he was signing; or
3.            Most of the salespeople at the dealerships speak Spanish, and half the dealerships' sales are conducted in Spanish. All contracts, however, are presented in English.
 
If the entire transaction is conducted primarily in Spanish, Texas Finance Code Chapter 348 may require that the entire contract also be in Spanish.
 
Documentary Fee Disclosure. Approved Spanish Language Translations
During the 81st legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed a new law (HB 3621) concerning the maximum amount of a documentary fee. The law became effective September 1, 2009. Part of the bill revises the documentary fee disclosure required on retail installment contracts if a seller increases its fee over $50. The Spanish version of the documentary fee disclosure, as modified by HB 3621 is as follows:
 
UN HONORARIO DE DOCUMENTACIÓN NO ES UN HONORARIO OFICIAL. UN HONORARIO DE DOCUMENTACIÓN NO ES REQUERIDO POR LA LEY, PERO PUEDE SER CARGADA AL COMPRADOR COMO GASTOS DE MANEJO DE DOCUMENTOS RELACIONADOS CON UNA VENTA. UN HONORARIO DE DOCUMENTACIÓN NO PUEDE EXCEDER UNA CANTIDAD RAZONABLE ACORDADA POR LAS PARTES. ESTA NOTIFICACIÓN ES REQUERIDA POR LA LEY.
 

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