VPA Newsletter June 11, 2015
VPA Voice Newsletter

The VPA Voice
"Giving a Voice to Industry Members"
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Administrator's Corner

Congratulations and a heartfelt thank you to all our members for supporting the best, most well-attended, educational conference the VPA has ever hosted. Our Las Vegas event was absolutely amazing and we received rave reviews from all attendees. As your administrator, I can proudly say the VPA shined brightly as we raised the standards on the location, food, event, speakers and business networking opportunities. Accommodations at the Wynn Encore exceeded expectations based on the comments we received. The program was well received and the new certification program generated excitement among the members. We are currently working on finalizing the certification program for all members and will have updates on that soon. Every attendee enjoyed their time and got business done. We are thankful and proud of each of our members for coming together, shedding business divides, networking and learning.

The Work Continues

Through the end of the year, we have a lot to get done. And I need your help!

We will continue to educate members on the states’ concerns, providing our members the ability to stay ahead of the game. From the work we have done so far, the VPA is closer than it has ever been, in a proactive and pro-business sense, with its most critical regulators. For example, Wisconsin alone – for the first time ever – provided comments and notes to our members to learn from at the recent conference. We are working closely to build, and quite frankly, now strengthen, bridges with Missouri, Minnesota and other states. Recently, Maryland’s Attorney General issued a press release alerting consumers to be “wary of offers of any automobile extended warranties, that many consumers may receive in the mail.” As you will remember, our members gained access to the state on October 1, 2016, due to a statutory amendment passed because of VPA efforts. Without the VPA, our members would have been locked out of the state. The Attorney General opposed the legislative change and, by issuing the press release, gave notice to our members that it will monitor mail pieces very carefully. We are happy to review the mail pieces for compliance and encourage you to consult with us or your own attorneys for guidance on the advertising pieces.

The VPA continues to monitor legislation that might impact our members. We’re working overtime in California to present legislative amendments in 2017 that will enable our industry to enter the state -- as you know, this is a tall order and rough road. The proposed amendments include changing the definition of seller to include third-party marketers and easing the restrictions on the licensing for the administrators. In accordance with members’ desires, the VPA is including membership in the VPA as a requirement for doing business in California. The lobbyist is working closely with the insurance commissioner to resolve his concerns about consumer protection. As for present status, we are working with the insurance commission to respond to serious concerns he has about the industry.

The VPA’s chairman, Paul Chernowsky, continues to be active in promoting the industry and is particularly interested in increasing the number of marketers (sellers) in the VPA. The VPA and the board of directors recognize marketers are very important to our industry and their participation in the VPA can only enhance the benefits of membership. The VPA and its board encourage all marketers to become members of the VPA. I am personally working closely with about 12 new companies and screening them for eventual admission into our association.

The VPA is convening a small committee to finalize a new payment structure for the VPA. A financially sound VPA enables us to provide additional benefits to our members. As a reminder, the VPA is continuing to update membership records. Thank you to all of you who updated your records with the VPA. If you still haven’t done so, please do so promptly. We must have accurate company and ownership information so we can communicate with you and understand your needs.

The VPA plans to have a high-level meeting with our friends at the FTC by the end of the year or early next year. This is part of our strategy to differentiate our members from less-compliant actors in the industry.

We are working very hard and will continue to do so on state tax issues. We are presently working to help our Members better understand Florida to prevent tax liabilities from getting out of control.

Lastly, the VPA is interested in conducting additional day long workshops in 2017. We welcome your thoughts and indication of interest in hosting these workshops. Workshops in St. Louis and San Diego are on our list of activities for 2017.

We welcome your comments and suggestions to improve the VPA and increase the services it is able to provide its members. Please email me with any questions, suggestions or anything else you need. My direct line is 954-343-6959.

To our success!
Robby H. Birnbaum

Annual Meeting Recap

As mentioned above, we had a great showing for the Annual Meeting, which was held at the end of August. We had a jam-packed agenda consisting of pro-business themes and concepts and regulatory updates to help our members stay on top of the latest developments and improve their business models and methods.

The feedback from our attendees was resoundingly positive as the Encore is a world-class event reflective of the quality that our annual meeting deserves. Starting with a fun and laid back cocktail party, the conference session the following day saw our largest attendance in several years.

We dove into the VPA’s new training and certification program authored by Laurence Larose. We touched on marketing ideas and strategies with speakers from DRIPS.com and Encore Direct Marketing, as well as capital market discussions with Colonnade Securities. A brief overview and discussion of the BPA Quality Monitoring program followed next along with a reputation management discussion by Profile Defenders. We are thankful to those who were able to attend and encourage all members to make time for year’s event once it is announced.

If you have any questions on anything discussed at the Annual Meeting, please reach out – we’d love to discuss.

Legislative Developments

Maryland was opened up to our industry on October 1, 2016 following our successful lobbying effort. While obligors are required to identify their marketers, it is important for marketers to heed the new prohibition against mail pieces appearing to be government sponsored. During our lobbying effort, the Maryland Attorney General’s office opposed our amending legislation based on the industry’s “reputation.” On October 18, the Maryland Attorney General issued a press release alerting consumers to be wary of offers for automobile extended warranties. It appears that this warning also serves as notice to the industry that the Attorney General will be monitoring mail pieces. The VPA encourages marketers to have their mail pieces reviewed prior to use.

Wisconsin recently blanketed the industry with subpoenas. While the VPA is establishing good relationships with the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office, we have not learned of any evidence supporting a valid concern. If a member receives a subpoena, please share with us and obtain counsel to assist in formulating your response.

Alaska recently enacted amending legislation that makes various revisions to the motor vehicle service contract law, including clarifying that a service contract must allow the contract holder to cancel the contract by certain deadlines, depending on delivery date, and revising examination expenses. For our members who market in Alaska, please make note of the revisions and consult with counsel if you have any questions or concerns.

California continues to be on a strong lobbying push for entry of our members into the state. The VPA, through our lobbyist, recently advised the insurance commissioner of our proposed amendments. He is considering the amendments and meeting with the Attorney General to determine if there are complaints about the industry that may convince the insurance commissioner not to support any amendments to the current law, which restricts sales of vehicle service contracts to retail auto dealers. The VPA’s goal is to sponsor amending legislation for passage in 2017. The VPA is canvassing our California members for support with the lobbying effort. The lobbyist has advised us of the possibility of strong opposition by the retail auto dealers.

Compliance Corner

The VPA and board of directors are very proud of our BPA call reporting program. While we both recognize this program as a great compliance tool for marketers, too many marketers are not responding to the requests for audio tapes. We strongly encourage all marketers to participate in this program. It can serve as an important line of supervision for our members. Recently, the board approved the addition of two additional calls per marketer focusing on refund calls. The results have been very positive over the past few months with no failing scores. Kudos to those members who are responding!

Welcome to New Member: All Pro Auto Parts

While there are many familiar faces in the VPA that have been members for years, we’d like to give a warm welcome to our newest member, All Pro Auto Parts. Thank you for joining us in our pursuit of reaching the next level together!

Thanks to our Sponsors!

Following our annual meeting, we want to take this opportunity to thank our generous sponsors for their support of this event and participation in the VPA. This event wouldn’t be possible without your help!

Title Sponsor:

Diamond Sponsors:

Platinum Sponsors: