Four Sansone auto dealerships are charged with consumer fraud
on January 22, 2009 at 8:18 PM, updated January 23, 2009 at 4:27 AM
The state filed a lawsuit against four Sansone auto dealerships on charges they violated consumer fraud laws when advertising their used cars.
The complaint was filed today in Superior Court in Middlesex County against Fords National Auto Mart, which does business as Sansone Ford Lincoln Mercury in Ocean Township; Paladin Chevrolet, which does business as Sansone Chevrolet in Avenel; Sansone Plaza Dodge, which does business as Sansone Dodge in Ocean Township; and Sansone Management, which does business as Sansone’s Route 1 Auto Mall in Avenel.
This is the second similar complaint against two of those dealerships. In 2004, Sansone Dodge and Sansone Chevrolet reached a consent order governing similar allegations. Now the state is seeking stiffer penalties against the group, Attorney General Anne Milgram and Consumer Affairs Director David Szuchman said.
In the older case, the two dealerships did not admit liability but agreed to pay $30,813 in consumer restitution and an $85,000 civil penalty.
The three-count complaint said the four car dealerships failed to disclose to consumers any previous damage to the cars or how the cars previously had been used. The ads also did not disclose that the posted price for the used cars did not include licensing costs, registration fees and taxes.
Milgram and Szuchman said the dealerships’ internet advertisements additionally violated state motor vehicle advertising regulations because they did not disclose the vehicles in question were previously registered and used as a rental car or as part of a corporate fleet, and they did not indicate they underwent substantial repair and body work after being damaged. The internet ads also made no mention of licensing costs, registration fees and taxes, they said.
The state could seek civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation, Szuchman said.
Robert Dato, corporate counsel for Sansone, said he had only briefly seen the complaint and company policy prevents him from discussing litigation.