On November 18, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revised its Guides for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools, which are intended to advise proprietary businesses that offer vocational training courses (either on the school’s premises or through distance education) how to avoid deceptive practices in connection with the advertising, promotion, marketing, or sale of their courses or programs. Truck driving schools are listed on the FTC’s website as falling under the realm of Vocational Training. Therefore it is importance for CVTA institutions to understand how this rule applies to their advertising and marketing.
These current revisions covers six areas:
- Deceptive trade or business names;
- Misrepresentation of extent or nature of Accreditation or Approval;
- Misrepresentation of facilities, services, qualifications of staff, status, and employment prospects for students after training;
- Misrepresentations of enrollment qualifications or limitations;
- Deceptive use of diplomas, degrees, or certificates; and
- Deceptive sales practices.
The Deceptive trade or business names section does not allow schools to misrepresent that they are connected to the US government or an employee agency. Under the Misrepresentation of extent or nature of Accreditation or Approval, there are some areas where CVTA schools will need to possibly tailor their websites and printed material to ensure compliance. For instance, it makes it deceptive for an Industry Member to misrepresent that its courses or programs of instruction fulfill a requirement that must be completed prior to taking a licensing examination. This could be an issue where a school indirectly or directly makes it seem that a student must take a training program before sitting for the CDL, which of course they do not as of now.
CVTA schools need to be careful when advertising that they do not show trucks, simulator equipment, or buildings that they no longer have or use as that will be seen as a deceptive practice. Schools will also have to be careful that they do not misrepresent the actual job market in their advertising. This could be an issue where a school leaves up information that is no longer accurate concerning the availability of jobs in the trucking industry. Schools cannot have any language in their advertisements that imply that employment is being offered. For instance “Men/women wanted to train for ****,” or “Help Wanted” cannot be in advertisements.
CVTA recommends that you or your legal counsel review your institutions advertising and website to ensure they are not in violation of misrepresenting some key area of their program. If you have any questions, please contact Don Lefeve.