AG Schneiderman Wins Restitution For Consumers of Brooklyn Nissan Dealership

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Bay Ridge Car Dealer Will Pay $100K In Restitution To 15 Customers And Penalties To Resolve Investigation Into Deceptive Business Practices.

Brooklyn, NY - April 28, 2014 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a nearly $100,000 settlement with Bay Ridge Nissan which requires the car dealership not to use deceptive sales and advertising practices to sell cars and aftermarket warranties. The agreement requires the company to pay $48,341 in restitution to 15 consumers and $50,000 as a civil penalty to the state.
 
The Attorney General conducted an investigation of the advertising and sales practices of the Brooklyn-based dealership after receiving dozens of consumer complaints. The complaints alleged a pattern of fraudulent and deceptive practices by the dealership, including conduct that led consumers to enter transactions that did not reflect the negotiated sales terms and frequently included unwanted aftermarket add-ons.
 
“This agreement is a victory for consumers in Brooklyn and around the state. We’ll continue to aggressively monitor the business practices of dealerships in New York to ensure they comply with laws designed to keep the auto market honest, and maintain a level playing field for consumers,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Anyone buying a car should be able to expect that when they negotiate prices and terms for vehicles, the contracts will accurately reflect those terms.”  
 
The Attorney General alleged that Bay Ridge Nissan, located at 6501 5th Ave., engaged in a pattern of fraudulent and deceptive practices, including but not limited to: publishing misleading advertisements on Craigslist.com; false advertisements targeting consumers who lost their vehicles in Hurricane Sandy; misrepresenting the terms of sale and financing during sales negotiations; adding the costs of unwanted aftermarket items into contracts and financing agreements; misrepresenting that aftermarket items were required by particular lenders; misrepresenting the consumers’ ability to cancel some aftermarket contracts and services after the completion of a transaction; falsely telling consumers that purchases had dealership-financing requirements; failing to return consumer down payments in a timely manner when transactions fell through, and failing to provide consumers with copies of their sales and financing documents. 
 
Restitution amounts range from $1,000 to more than $7,000 for the 15 consumers with outstanding complaints. 
The dealership is enjoined from any further violation of NY Executive Law § 63(12), which prohibits fraud and illegality in the conduct of business, and NY General Business Law §§ 349 and 350, which prohibit deceptive business practices and false advertising.
 
The Attorney General’s tips that can help protect consumers when purchasing a vehicle:
  • Determine what you can pay. Before you start looking at cars, determine what you can afford to pay; 
  • Do your research. Check Consumer Reports or other auto research resources before going to the dealerships. Negotiating is easier if you know what the dealership paid for the car and what other consumers are paying;
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) to find out if the dealership is reputable;
  • Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics and don’t be afraid to walk out of the dealership if you feel you are being manipulated;
  • Shop around for financing. You can arrange financing through your own bank or lender rather than relying on the dealership’s offer;
  • Take your time reading the sales and financing contracts. Don’t let the dealership rush you;
  • Extended warranties, service contracts, and aftermarket items. These products and policies are expensive and very profitable to the dealer. Check carefully to see what both the manufacturer’s warranty and the extended warranty cover. Often, the items most likely to need repair or replacement are not covered by the extended warranty;
  • If the dealership tells you that the lender requires that a service contract or other aftermarket product or policy be purchased to obtain a particular finance rate, verify this claim with the lender; 
  • A copy of the terms and conditions of the service contract must be provided by the dealership. You are entitled to a full refund, less any claims paid, within 20 days of the mailing of the service contract or within 10 days if the contract is delivered at the time of sale;
  • Consumers who have a complaint are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline, (800) 771-7755. 
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Eubank with the assistance of Lois Booker-Williams, Assistant Attorney General In Charge of the Brooklyn Regional Office, and Jane Azia, chief of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection. The Executive Deputy Attorney General Regional Affairs is Marty Mack.
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