For Immediate Release - October 29, 2009

Survey Finds more than 40 Percent of New and Used Cars for Sale Missing Mandatory Lemon Law Notice

Nearly 2,000 cars checked at 73 dealerships in Eastern Massachusetts

BOSTON - October 29, 2009 - In a survey of car dealers' lots conducted by the Patrick Administration's Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, nearly half of the almost 2,000 new and used cars checked were missing the bright-yellow Lemon Law warranty notices required by law.

Auto dealers are required to place these notices on cars offered for sale. These notices inform consumers of their rights under the state's new and used car Lemon Laws.

In all, Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation staff and participating consumer groups around Eastern Massachusetts checked 1,912 new and used vehicles at 73 dealerships in 18 communities during the month of August. Overall, the survey found 43 percent of the cars checked were without the stickers that must be attached to all cars on display. Of the 608 new cars checked, one out of four was missing stickers. Of the 1,304 used cars checked, 51 percent had stickers missing.

"For most families, an automobile purchase is a major financial event, and the Lemon Law is a valuable consumer protection for people thinking about buying a car. Massachusetts consumers have a right to know their rights under the state's Lemon Law," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "Car buyers have important repair and refund rights, and deadlines to request free repairs, so dealers need to be consistent about putting these notices on every car."

The new and used car Lemon Laws each require different notices that must be placed on every car for sale by a car dealer. They detail a consumer's right to a refund after a reasonable number of repair attempts, and outline the arbitration process when a dealer and consumer disagree about whether the car qualifies for a refund. The Lemon Law program is operated by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, and the survey is a part of the Office's continued efforts to protect consumers and ensure a level playing field for Massachusetts businesses.

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation staff were joined by the Massachusetts Division of Banks, Norfolk District Attorney's Office, Cambridge Consumers' Council, Cape Cod Consumer Assistance Council, and Middlesex Mediation in conducting the field inspections of a sample of cars on each dealer's lot visited.

A total of 17 surveys, at eight new and nine used lots, found 100 percent compliance. Seven surveys on new lots and 12 surveys on used lots found 80 to 99 percent compliance. Three new lot surveys and nine used lot surveys found compliance between 60 and 79 percent. Six surveys of new lots and 36 surveys of used lots found compliance below 60 percent. To see a detailed list of the results, go to www.mass.gov/consumer .

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation has sent letters to each of the dealers surveyed, informing each of its results from the survey. The last Lemon Law sticker survey was done 20 years ago, and Anthony said she hopes the renewed attention will remind dealers of their obligation to put the stickers on all of their vehicles.

"We were pleased to see a number of dealers are following through in placing stickers on vehicles, and we hope that more dealers, now better aware of the regulations, increase their compliance efforts," Anthony said. "We want to ensure consumers have every opportunity to be aware of their rights, and there's no easier way in this case than to put a notice right on the car they might buy."

Automobile dealers may obtain a copy of the required notices by going to www.mass.gov/consumer or by contacting their automobile dealers associations.