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May 8: Guidance on test drives, home drop off, E signatures and rules

Hello Dealers,

Here is some guidance on test drives, home drop off, E signatures and rules for the dealers In CNY.

Test Drives / Best Practice:
Update: A dealer may resume permitting test drives, at its discretion. The Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles has urged extreme caution should a dealer proceed with offering test drives to potential customers. The Commissioner recognized a dealer’s need to conduct test drives, however, during PAUSE, it can only be offered under the proviso that various precautionary and procedural steps be taken by dealers. He made specific reference to health requirements regarding the sanitation of vehicles in accordance with the Department of Health and CDC Guidelines.
Best Practice: A dealer should only allow the customer to operate the vehicle without a dealership employee and maintain a log of all test drive activity which includes customer’s names, vehicle description, sanitizing measures in detail, by who performed and if the vehicle was purchased. It is strongly advised that a dealer should first notify its insurance company and consult with them regarding the intent to commence unaccompanied test drives and obtain satisfactory consent that such practice will not impair its coverage or increase its premiums. Should a dealer wish to refrain from offering test drives during PAUSE, an alternative would be to offer to review the vehicle remotely with the customer on the manufacturer’s website to address any questions that he or she may have.

Home Drop Off Best Practice:
It is important to understand the difference between the home drop off and the home delivery of a vehicle, and what is permissible under the PAUSE mandate. The home drop off of a vehicle concerns the transportation of a vehicle to a customer’s residence, depositing the vehicle on the property, and departing from the property (non-lingering customer interaction).
Best Practice: Under the PAUSE mandate, “home drop off” of a vehicle is permitted. Home delivery may subject the dealership’s employees to unnecessary health risks such as unknown sanitary conditions within customer’s home and removing the control from the employee of maintaining safe social distancing requirements. All dealership employees who perform home drop offs should be instructed as to proper social distancing and how to politely instruct a customer to maintain his or her social distancing for mutual benefit and politely decline any invitation by the customer into a confined space

E-Signatures / Best Practice:
The federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, or ESIGN, enacted in 2000, permits e-contracting of auto sales. Over 47 states including Washington, D.C., have Uniform Electronic Transaction Act laws, giving e-signatures legal authority. The federal E-Sign Act allows for electronic signatures on documents relating to vehicle sales and leasing. The Act states that a contract or signature, “may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.” Provided that the customer agrees to conduct the transaction via electronic means, the E-Signature Act will govern the transaction. Under the Act, a paper or “wet” signature is just as enforceable as a digital signature. In New York, The Electronic Signatures and Records Act (ESRA) provides that signatures made via electronic means will be legally binding as handwritten signatures.
Best Practice: To the extent that your dealership is required to obtain original “wet” signatures (for DMV or F&I purposes), you will need to provide a sanitized area for customers to sign hard copies of documents relating to the sale and leasing of a vehicle. A long table, 6 ft, end to end, set in an openair space or within a sanitized area of the dealership with proper ventilation that conforms to the CDC and NYSDOH guidelines would be permissible. The dealership employee and the consumer can sit at opposite ends of this table. It would be recommended to provided two sets of documents; one set for the dealer employee interacting with the consumer and one set for the consumer to review prior to signing so as to avoid any close contact during the review of sales contract and warranty language. The dealer should provide the customer with her or her own clean pen (to keep) that he or she may use to execute the necessary documents. A cautionary note: check with your F&I providers as to the type of signatures that may be required prior to initiating a sales transaction with a customer.

Important Reminders For Dealerships:
Some final points to consider when preparing your dealership to be compliant with both the CDC and the New York Department of Health guidelines:
• Instruct employees to not shake hands.
• Wear latex gloves (or latex free gloves if any employee has a latex allergy) at all times when conducting any transaction with a customer. This includes the transfer of paper documentation, obtaining identification cards, licenses, consumer credit cards and signatures). Do not reuse gloves and dispose of worn gloves immediately and properly.
• Do not share writing instruments such as pens or pencils.
• Do not share or touch smartphones, tablets or related “high risk” touch technology that is not owned by the employee or dealership.
• Clean all “high risk” surfaces that consumers may come into contact with such as steering wheels, doorknobs, handles, computer touch screens, bathrooms, kitchen areas, and water coolers.
• Service technicians should disinfect keys, door handles, steering wheels and buttons and switches at the time of customer drop off and prior to the return of the vehicle to the customer.
All personal interactions must adhere to New York State Department of Health and CDC Guidelines with no exception. Any dealership that fails to follow the guidelines as implemented by New York State may subject itself to civil or criminal penalties. The New York Attorney General has stated that these policies will be enforced in full.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers on COVID-19

NEW RULES FOR DEALERS IN CENTRAL NEW YORK Dealerships in Onondaga and Madison Counties were allowed to restart in-person sales this week, as long as they stick to a laundry list of new rules aimed at promoting social distancing.
READ: Full details

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