Jeep #4 Report: AG’s Office Closes Complaint

The Virginia State Attorney General’s Office sent me a letter to inform me that they are closing my complaint against Dulles Motorcars. The irony of it all is that the reason they cited was the exact same reason I filed the complaint:  an “impasse” between me and the dealership.

The “impasse” was that the dealership [Dulles Motorcars (Jeep)] simply stopped communicating.

I had thought the AG’s office would do more than they did (serve as an additional post office between disputing parties). The Better Business Bureau does the same thing. My hope is that if the AG’s office receives enough complaints, they will act, and join the Federal Trade Commission and other AG offices in states across the country in protecting consumers from deceptive sales practices.

So this recent development leads me to the Question of the Day:  Where are consumers being protected?

It is the job of the office of attorney general to enforce state laws. So Question of the Day 2 and 3 and 4 are as follows:

  • What are Virginia’s laws regarding deceptive and unfair advertising and auto dealer fraud?
  • Are Virginia laws in line with the FTC or do they need to provide greater consumer protection?
  • How many complaints must the Virginia AG’s office receive before taking action against a car dealership? Is it 10 or 20 or 50?

See Virginia Consumer Protection Act

Note:  To see all blog posts related to the Jeep #4 drama, go to Categories, on the right, and click the 004a Jeep #4 report link. Or you can begin with Day 1 and read how it all began.

The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’

He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.

Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’ — Matthew 13:27–30


Story Time: Consumer vs Auto Dealership

Real world stories about consumers suing car dealerships (and car dealers getting car buyers arrested)

And if that interests you, this might, too

Car Buying Tip of the Day:  This is a small tip. A few hundred dollar tip. Ask in advance (before you show up), preferably get in writing via e-mail, what the dealership charges for its documentation fee. This is one of the details I let slip on purchase day, (because I wanted the car shopping process to be over and was rushing — also on my “mistakes I made” list), and I suspect the dealership padded the fee to squeeze a few extra hundred out me. I’ve never seen a documentation fee greater than $500, until I saw the $695 that Dulles Motorcars charged me.

See also the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association article on Advertising and the Feds

The FTC & Deceptive Advertising in Auto Sales

Auto Sales Consumer Protection News 

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call  1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

March 26, 2015 — Cases Involving Deceptive Advertising

Three auto dealers, Cory Fairbanks Mazda of Longwood, Fla., Jim Burke Nissan of Birmingham, Ala., and Ross Nissan of El Monte, Calif., have agreed to settle charges that they ran deceptive ads that violated the FTC Act, and also violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and/or Consumer Leasing Act (CLA). According to the FTC complaints, ads touted sales, lease or financing options that seemed attractive but were cancelled out by fine-print disclaimers. In other instances, the disclaimers did not disclose relevant terms, such as required down payments.

Read the whole article – FTC, Multiple Law Enforcement Partners Announce Crackdown on Deception, Fraud in Auto Sales, Financing and Leasing

Read also the article in The Detroit News about Feds Cracking Down on Crooked Auto Dealers

December 12, 2014  — The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against two auto dealer groups, operating in five states with more than two dozen retail stores, for civil penalties for violations of FTC administrative orders, which prohibit them from deceptively advertising the cost of buying or leasing a car.

“If auto dealers make advertising claims in headlines, they can’t take them away in fine print,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “These actions show there is a financial cost for violating FTC orders.”

Read the whole article – FTC Takes Action Against Two Auto Dealership Chains For Violating 2012 Orders Prohibiting Deceptive Advertising of Vehicle Costs

March 14, 2012 — FTC Takes Action To Stop Deceptive Car Dealership Ads