By Matthew Fischetti
The city announced a $300,000 settlement with predatory used-car vendors throughout Brooklyn and Queens on Friday.
Last November, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection filed suit against Kings Auto Show and JF Motors for thousands of violations, ranging from false sticker advertising to misleading consumers about financing.
In their case against Kings Auto Show, which operates two Brooklyn Mitshbushi locations, the DCWP filed over 7,000 charges and is seeking more than $50,000 in restitution. JF motors, which owns Automania and Luxury Automotive Club in Woodside, has racked up over 9,000 violations and the city is seeking more than $100,000 in restitution. In both cases, the city seeks to revoke their licenses.
“I was looking for a good experience in buying my very first car. Instead, I was taken advantage of and cheated out of my hard-earned money,” Brooklyn Mitsubishi customer Jefferey Williams said in a statement. “No one should ever have to go through this with any used car dealership, especially if it’s their first time.”
In 2018, the city passed a series of policies to combat predatory sales and financing practices utilised in the used car industry. Among them included a “Consumer Bill of Rights” that must be posted in an area where consumers negotiate a contract, a financing disclosure form that includes the lower annual percentage rate offered by financing company, and that used car dealers must provide customers with a cancellation option of two weekdays within their contract.
Among the many violations, the DCWP found that both companies illegally charged above advertised prices and utilized illegal contracts. JF Motors even would label cars as Certified Pre-owned by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (which provides a 125- point inspection and a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty) and mark up the price for the faulty certification.
“The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association does not condone illegal or unethical practices. We continually strive to strengthen the integrity of our industry-leading certified pre-owned program through enhanced technology and training,” National Independent Automobile Dealers Association CEO Bob Voltmann said in a statement.
The DCWP has received over 10,000 complaints about the industry since 2014 and currently licenses 476 used car dealerships throughout the five boroughs. The DCWP has secured $2.4 million in consumer restitution and more than $5.5 million in fines since 2014, according to a release.
“These dealerships repeatedly victimized their customers and violated consumer protection laws,” DCWP Commissioner Peter A. Hatch said in a statement. “We are taking action to a put a stop to their exploitative practices, obtain restitution for the consumers they harmed, and to revoke their licenses so they cannot do this again.”