Attorney General Cuomo Stops Oneida County Used Car Dealer From Overcharging For Dmv Registration Fees And Implementing Surcharges On Credit Card Purchases

UTICA, N.Y. (June 1, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement with an Oneida County-based used car dealership that ends its years-old practice of overcharging customers for Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) registration fees and then failing to refund leftover money. The dealership was also improperly charging surcharges on purchases made with a credit card.

As part of the agreement with Attorney General Cuomo’s Office, Auto One Group, Inc, located on State Route 233 in Clinton, and its owner Matthew Crever, must fully refund consumers who were overcharged for DMV registration fees and pay $30,000 in civil penalties to New York. The Attorney General’s Office estimates up to 1,000 consumers are owed restitution that could total $50,000.

“This company raked in tens of thousands of dollars by falsely inflating vehicle registration fees in an effort to dupe unsuspecting consumers,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Slipping in deceptive and hidden fees into the purchase price of any item, including automobiles, will not go unchecked by my office.”

Like many dealerships, as a method of convenience, Auto One offered customers the opportunity to pay their DMV registration fee directly to the dealership since 2006. The dealership typically charged customers a $150 fee for registration for vehicles purchased without a trade-in and $110 for vehicles purchased with a trade-in.

The DMV typically charges $50 for a New York State Certificate of Title, $49.50 for registration for two years (slightly varying depending on the weight of the vehicle) and $15 for license plates. For purchases with trade-ins, purchases normally carry a $50 charge for certificate of title, $7.75 for the transfer of existing registration to the new vehicle and an amount to cover the difference in weight between the two vehicles.

Overall, consumers electing for this service were typically charged anywhere from $15 to $52 above the actual cost of registering a vehicle. Based upon the number of customers Auto One served, the aggregate dollar amount could reach $50,000.

In addition to refunding consumers and ending the overcharges, Auto One must stop from imposing a surcharge for the use of credit cards, which is illegal under New York General Business Law.

As part of the agreement, Auto One must hire an independent Certified Public Accountant to ensure that eligible consumers are properly refunded. Consumers who believe they have been overcharged are urged to contact Attorney General Cuomo’s Utica Regional Office at (315) 793-2225.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General In-Charge of the Utica Regional Office Joel Marmelstein with assistance from Investigator Joseph Kelly and DMV Senior Investigator Grace Isgro.