- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Issues Advisory to Auto Dealers and Consumers Regarding Auto Sales During COVID-19 Pandemic
Boston — Attorney General Maura Healey today issued an advisory to Massachusetts automobile dealerships and consumers notifying them of their obligations and rights under the state consumer protection law relating to remote auto sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While all auto dealerships in Massachusetts are currently closed for in-person sales due to the pandemic, dealerships may still conduct online and phone sales if they follow guidance outlined in the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development’s COVID-19 Essential Services FAQs, Transportation and Logistics. The AG’s Office warns that this prohibition on in-person transactions, while necessary to protect public health, increases the risk to consumers that their legal rights may be violated and that they may be more vulnerable to unfair and deceptive practices.
“Buying a car is one of the largest and most important purchases a consumer will make,” said AG Healey. “We want to protect consumers and make sure they know their rights, and also to notify dealers of their obligation to comply with state laws while the pandemic continues.”
Under state guidance, auto sales transactions have changed in two important ways: test drives are limited to one individual in the car, and all paperwork related to the sales transaction must be completed electronically, to the maximum extent feasible. The AG’s Office warns that these changes may deprive consumers of an important opportunity to make an informed purchase and fully understand the terms of their purchase contracts.
In response to these concerns, the AG’s advisory reminds auto dealerships of their legal obligations in sales transactions under the Massachusetts consumer protection law, including:
- Auto sellers must disclose to a buyer any known fact that would influence the buyer not to complete the purchase.
- Dealerships must provide a complete copy of all sales and financing paperwork to the consumer when they execute the documents.
- Dealerships may not make statements to buyers verbally or in advertisements if they know, should know, or don’t have enough information to verify whether the statement is false or misleading. Failure to disclose defects or the condition of a vehicle may be considered a false or misleading statement.
- Dealerships must comply with existing statutes, rules, regulations or laws meant for the protection of the public’s health, safety or welfare that is intended to provide protection to consumers.
- Dealerships completing sales transactions in buyers’ homes are required to provide buyers with a three day right to cancel. Failure to disclose this right to cancellation in the contract allows the buyer the right to cancel until the omitted disclosure is corrected.
For more information on your rights when buying a vehicle, visit the AG’s website.
The AG’s Office has prioritized protecting Massachusetts consumers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit AG Healey’s COVID-19 resource page for information about how the AG’s Office can provide support during this crisis.