Car Dealership to Pay $225,000 to Resolve Deceptive Marketing Allegations
Allegedly Charged Higher Rates than Originally Negotiated with Consumers
BOSTON – A family of car dealerships with locations in Hanover and Raynham has agreed to pay $225,000 in restitution, civil penalties and attorney fees to resolve allegations that it used deceptive marketing tactics, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
“We are pleased that the company has agreed to provide restitution to consumers and has taken important steps to make sure that misleading business practices do not occur in the future,” AG Coakley said.
According to the AG’s complaint, filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court along with a consent judgment, McGee Wholesale Cars, McGee Motorcars, Inc. and McGee Chevrolet, Inc. (collectively, the “dealership”), placed advertisements online and in print publications that misrepresented the actual prices of automobiles. Often the advertisements listed the so-called “dealer’s cost” rather than the actual sale price of a car, misleading buyers into believing the car was being offered at low prices that the dealership would not meet.
The complaint further alleges that on several occasions, dealership employees asked consumers to sign incomplete documents with the understanding that they would be completed using the negotiated vehicle price, and later entered information which called for a higher price. Employees also allegedly charged consumers fees for unwanted or undisclosed warranties and services.
The consent judgment orders the dealership to pay $125,000 in consumer restitution, $85,000 in civil penalties and $15,000 to cover attorney fees and costs. The judgment also prohibits deceptive marketing and sales practices. Under the settlement, the dealership also will implement a formal training program for all staff members involved in the sales or financing of motor vehicles to educate them on proper compliance with state regulations.
The dealership cooperated with the AG’s investigation and, once the investigation was initiated, the dealership implemented managerial and procedural changes to address issues raised by the investigation. The dealership denied all allegations of wrongdoing, though it agreed to resolve the matter with the Attorney General’s office.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Amber Anderson Villa with the assistance of Paralegal Krista Roche of the AG’s Consumer Protection Division and Investigators William Mackay and Kristen Metzger.