Car Dealership Scam Warning
Scams, Scams, and More Scams
In previous articles we’ve reported a number of scams that some car dealerships use to help move their inventory at the cost of your wallet. Scams that typically involve padding of repair bills, shoddy repair scams, flipping flood-damaged car scams, MSRP window sticker scams, also the worst and possibly oldest one of them all---odometer scams on newer model cars and leased cars that includes Certified Previously Owned (CPO) scams.
Current Scam Going on Right Now
While you may fall victim to any of the above scams that you discovered afterward in your used or relatively new car once you got home, the latest scam occurs even before you arrive at a dealership---the good ol’ dependable bait and switch scam.
According to a recent Automotive News report, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is warning car buyers to be aware of dealers who are not accurately advertising their vehicle prices and/or refuse to honor those prices once you’ve arrived at the dealership for what you thought was a good deal.
In fact, approximately 74 such complaints have been filed in the past year stating that some dealerships were advertising specific prices online, but then denying them once interested car buyers got to the store. Other complaints also include car dealerships not honoring the buyout provisions in lease agreements to lessees who want to buyout and then either keep or resell their leased vehicles. Of particular interest may be those leased vehicle models that offer the most profit in buyback deals.
"Purchasing a vehicle is a significant financial investment for many individuals and families," Healey said in a statement. "After a surge in complaints to my office, we're making sure consumers are aware of their rights under the law, and that auto dealerships know our office will take action against these deceptive sales tactics," Automotive News writes in their report on the problem.
Scam Protections for Car Buyers
So what the rights of car buyers? In an Attorney General Advisory on Automobile Advertising, Pricing and Lease Buyouts, the laws state that:
• Automobile dealers must clearly and conspicuously disclose all included and excluded charges in any advertised price of a vehicle as well as the expiration date of any advertised price, and it is unfair or deceptive to refuse to sell a vehicle for the price advertised.
• It is unfair or deceptive for automobile dealers to make misrepresentations, including misrepresentations about the value of a vehicle by, among other things, posting or advertising inaccurate prices or prices they will not honor.
• Automobile dealerships have a contractual obligation to honor the terms of any contract with a consumer regarding the lease of a vehicle, including a consumer’s right to purchase the vehicle under the contract, and failure to do so may constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice.
• Automobile dealerships must comply with existing statutes, rules, regulations, and laws, meant for the protection of the public’s health, safety or welfare that is intended to provide protection to consumers.
• Automobile dealerships are public accommodations and may not discriminate against consumers based on their race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or ancestry.
For a complete listing of the above including the Code references to each protection, click on this link.
What To Do if You Fell For This Scam
If you fell for this scam---whether or not it resulted in you buying a car---you can go online and type in the keywords “Report a Scam Attorney General (your state)” for help in reporting the incident and put a stop to these type of bait and switch scams by car dealerships. If possible, capture or print out a screen shot of the online offer as proof of the incident.
For additional used car articles related to the topic, be sure to check out the following linked articles “Consumer Reports Recommends Avoiding These Used Car Models This Summer; and, “Avoid Lube Center Scams With This Mechanic’s Step by Step DIY Oil and Filter Change Demo.”
Timothy Boyer is Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily automotive-related news.
Photo by Dieny Portinanni on Unsplash