For the most part, the JM&A finance and insurance product service group encourages videotaping, on the premise that the camera doesn't blink.

Dealership managers, however, should randomly review tapes for violations — and do it faithfully, according to JM&A.

“This can be a powerful tool for those dealers committed, at all times, to manage and maintain this process,” says Jim McDavid, a JM&A vice president.

But if a dealer is unable to locate a specific tape, that situation could support claims of inappropriate business practices by a dealership, he notes.

A number of dealers say they keep the tapes on file for about three years before purging them.

Here is a JM&A list of benefits and drawbacks of videotaping customer transactions:

  • Serves as a staff coaching and teaching tool.
  • Provides ability to audit F&I processes and staff performances.
  • Deters improper F&I activity; protects against identity theft, possible fraud.
  • Documents F&I staffers making solid presentations — and those who don't.
  • Allows dealership to review customer agreements in their exact words.
  • Documents customers who refuse to be taped; and possibly why.
  • Allows for excess discovery should a lawsuit arise — an attorney benefit.
  • Gives attorneys the power to review all tapes, not just one client tape.
  • Refusing customers may decide to leave the dealership, shop elsewhere.
  • Could lead to negative staff perceptions and reactions.