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Post date: September 30 1999

Auto Dealers Agree To Alter Advertising Tactics

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement with more than two dozen auto dealerships to change advertising policies that were determined to be deceptive to consumers.

"This settlement will help enhance the consumer confidence in auto advertising while leveling the playing field for those auto dealers who have consistently abided by reforms enacted through federal auto leasing regulations," Spitzer said.

As part of a continuing effort to stop deceptive auto leasing advertising, and after a noted increase in non-conforming advertisements, the Attorney General's Westchester office analyzed advertising campaigns throughout the lower Hudson Valley region. As a result of the investigation and subsequent talks with the auto dealerships, 25 dealerships have settled allegations of deceptive lease advertising and paid a total of $31,200 to the Attorney General's office to cover investigation costs and penalties.

Included in the settlement were 20 Westchester County automobile dealerships including: Adzam Value Auto, Beck Chevrolet, Fairway Ford, Geis Auto Mall, Larchmont Jeep Chrysler Plymouth, Mark Buick, Marty Cadillac, Mayer Volkswagen, Mt. Kisco Honda, New Rochelle Toyota, Premium Mitsubishi, Schultz Ford, Smith Cairns Mazda, Westchester BMW, Westchester Chrysler Plymouth Jeep, Westchester Toyota, White Plains Dodge, White Plains Honda, White Plains Nissan, and Yorktown Mitsubishi.

Also part of the settlement were Brewster Ford and Meadowland Chrysler of Putnam County, Riverdale Chrysler of Bronx County, and Nissan of Greenwich and Fair Honda in Connecticut.

Federal regulations, which took effect nearly two years ago, set strict guidelines for auto leasing advertisements in print, television and on the radio. Most violations cited by the Attorney General's Office included:

  • deceptive advertising which prominently displayed "$0 down payment" with significantly smaller print indicating such information as the total amount due at lease signing;
  • failure to state the total amount due at lease inception;
  • failure to state whether or not a security deposit is required; and
  • inadequate disclosure of important qualifications necessary to lease a car through a rebate offer or at a stated annual percentage rate.

Consumers who believe they may have been the victim of deceptive auto advertising are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's office at (800) 771-7755 or visit his web site at www.ag.ny.gov

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Doris Morin under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General In Charge Gary Brown of the Westchester Regional Office.