Auto Dealer Sued For Reneging On Deal

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a lawsuit against a Greene County auto dealer for reneging on a promise to provide refunds to consumers who were duped into purchasing former rental vehicles.

Condor Pontiac, Cadillac, Buick and GMC Trucks, Inc. of Catskill was served with a lawsuit alleging that it attempted to avoid paying nearly $140,000 in restitution by improperly resolving the claims of consumers who never received notice that the vehicles they purchased from Condor had been used previously as rental cars. The lawsuit also cites Condor for repeatedly failing to provide copies of purchase agreements to consumers in violation of state law.

"My office has sought to protect consumers by working diligently to reform the business and advertising practices of the auto dealer industry," Spitzer said. "Dealers who renege on agreements to provide restitution to customers will face legal action."

In a February 2002 settlement, Condor was cited for false advertising and for failing to provide proper notice to consumers when selling former rental cars. The auto dealer agreed to pay restitution to six consumers and to provide restitution to additional consumers who filed legitimate complaints that they, too, had not been properly notified of their cars' prior use. The restitution promised by Condor would equal 15 percent of the sale price for vehicles sold since 2001 and 10 percent of the sale price for vehicles sold in 1999 or 2000.

Since that time, Spitzer's office has received an additional 83 complaints that were verified to be eligible under the terms of the settlement.

Condor has refused to provide restitution in 66 of these cases. In 37 cases, Condor claims that the requisite notice was provided to consumers. The lawsuit challenges that assertion because the auto dealer persistently failed to provide copies of purchase agreements to its customers.

In some cases where Condor did provide a purchase agreement, the customer's copy failed to provide notice regarding the prior use of the vehicle.

In other cases, Condor refused to pay claiming it had no knowledge of the former use of the vehicles. The settlement agreement, however, clearly provides that all consumers who purchased former rental cars without proper notice would be provided refunds.

Notification of a vehicle's prior use is required by state law for autos that were taxis, rental cars, police vehicles or returned to the dealer as "lemons."

The lawsuit seeks enforcement of the settlement including restitution plus interest and damages; a permanent ban against future deceptive and fraudulent business acts; an order directing Condor to provide a complete accounting to the Attorney General's office of all consumers who purchased used vehicles at the dealership during the past six years; and civil penalties and costs.

The lawsuit was filed today in Dutchess County Supreme Court in Poughkeepsie.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office with the assistance of Consumer Frauds Representative Mark Hoops.

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