A coalition of 11 consumer groups asked the FTC to investigate the company, alleging its advertisements are misleading. CarMax touts a rigorous, 125-point inspection of every car it sells, but does not check to see whether cars have been recalled or repaired.
"It is inherently deceptive for an auto dealer to represent that its vehicles have passed a rigorous inspection, while failing to take even the most basic step of checking the vehicle's safety recall status," the group's petition says.
At the time the coalition filed its petition, the FTC had not disclosed the number of consumer complaints it had received regarding CarMax. In a response to a request for public records, the federal agency said Monday it has received 1,509 complaints via its consumer sentinel network since July 1, 2011, in which the company at the center of a consumer complaint was identified as CarMax or Car Max. Roughly a third, 506, have come in the past year.
The FTC did not release the specific complaints, so it is unknown what percentage of the 1,509 relate specifically to the company's advertising practices. During the same time period, the national branch of the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit consumer organization, had received 802 overall complaints about CarMax; 129 of those were related to "advertising/sales."
The FTC confirmed it had received the consumer groups' petition, but would not say whether it has prompted an investigation. In a written statement, it notes the consumer sentinel network is a repository of complaints filed, but that the agency does not verify the merits of the complaints.
A spokesperson for the Richmond, Va.-based company tells AOL Autos in a written statement that "CarMax revolutionized the way Americans buy used vehicles, delivering what consumers want when shopping for a car: an ethical, honest, no-haggle experience with a wide selection of high-quality vehicles. As part of our commitment to providing the best service possible to every customer, we encourage customers to share any concerns with us so we can work together on a solution."
The company operates more than 100 stores nationwide, according to its website.
Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow