ATTORNEY GENERAL AND DIVISON OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
SUE TWO CAR DEALERSHIPS
NEWARK - The Attorney General’s Office and the Division of Consumer Affairs have filed suit against Timco, Inc., owner of Planet Honda, and Chevrolet 73, Inc., owner of two vehicle dealerships, for multiple violations of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, Attorney General Stuart Rabner and Acting Director Stephen B. Nolan announced today.
The two lawsuits, filed in State Superior Court in Union and Camden counties, allege that Planet Honda, a Union Township-based car dealership, and the Berlin-based Chevrolet 73 and Chevrolet 73 Bargain Corral dealerships, committed unconscionable commercial practices and violations of the state’s Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations.
The dealerships violated the Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations in newspaper and internet ads by failing to make required disclosures, including limitations on rebates to consumers, and failing to disclose previous damage to and/or prior use of used motor vehicles.
“A deal that is impossible to obtain is no deal at all. Consumers were lured into these two dealerships by deceptive ads,” Attorney General Rabner said. “We expect businesses to make all legally required disclosures so consumers are protected in the marketplace.”
The suits allege multiple violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, including unconscionable commercial practices, providing misleading information to consumers, and withholding information from consumers such as prior vehicle damage, among other things. The specific allegations include:
Failure to honor the advertised and/or negotiated terms of a sale or lease transaction;
Failure to disclose to consumers prior accident history and damage of purchased or leased cars;
Misrepresentation of vehicle mileage;
Misrepresentation that certain dealer-provided options were mandatory;
Charging for title and registration in excess of the MVC fees;
Use of the state seal in advertisements to imply a state certification that did not exist;
Failure to provide consumers with title and registration in a timely manner;
Engaging in “bait and switch” by advertising a vehicle with a low sales or lease price and then refusing to sell or lease that vehicle at the advertised price;
Failure to cancel a contract or pay off a loan on trade-in vehicles; and
Violations of the Used Car Lemon Law, including misrepresentation of the mechanical condition of a used motor vehicle.
“The purchase or lease of a car often is one of a consumer’s largest purchases and they should have confidence that the dealer is treating them fairly,” said Acting Director Nolan. “In these cases, consumers were the victims of conniving schemes intended to boost sales. We intend to stop these dealers in their tracks and reimburse those consumers who were taken for a ride.”
The state is seeking restitution for consumers who have filed complaints and maximum civil penalties which currently provide for up to $10,000 for the initial violation of the Consumer Fraud Act and up to $20,000 for each subsequent violation. The state also is seeking a change in business practices at Planet Honda and Chevrolet 73 to prevent future violations.
Deputy Attorneys General Gina M. Betts and Jeffrey Koziar are representing the state in these matters.