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NY AG Sues Two Dealerships Over the Sale of Etch

December 21, 2017

By Tariq Kamal

A Suzuki store in the Bronx was one of two franchised dealerships charged by New York’s attorney general with deceptively selling window etching to as many as 1,100 car buyers. Photo by Shannon McGee
A Suzuki store in the Bronx was one of two franchised dealerships charged by New York’s attorney general with deceptively selling window etching to as many as 1,100 car buyers. Photo by Shannon McGee

NEW YORK — Victory Mitsubishi of Larchmont (N.Y.) and Victory Suzuki of the Bronx (N.Y.) have been charged with selling an “unwanted and bogus” anti-theft product to as many as 1,100 car buyers for a price of up to nearly $4,000 per customer. The allegations were leveled in a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who claims to have recovered more than $19 million in restitution and penalties from auto dealers on behalf of nearly 29,000 car buyers since 2015.

To dealers who have followed headlines from New York and other states, the details of the case are painfully familiar. In April 2015, a Victory Mitsubishi customer contacted Schneiderman’s office regarding a charge of $1,995 for “Etch” on her bill of sale, noting that she had not and would not have agreed to pay for VIN window etching.

That customer received a refund shortly after the AG’s office contacted the dealership, but the complaint spurred an investigation that found more than 1,000 customers of Victory Mitsubishi and Victory Suzuki had paid between $129 and $3,998 for the product, typically without their consent and often without any engraving having taken place, according to the lawsuit.

Among customers who were made aware of the product, many were led to believe a credit of up to either $2,500 or $5,000 would be issued if their etch-equipped vehicle was stolen; however, a series of conditions and limitations rendered the credit “illusory,” Schneiderman said.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to worry about being scammed by auto dealers when they buy a car," he added. "We will continue to protect New Yorkers — and take on those who seek to rip off consumers with hidden and unwanted fees and products.”


  1. 1. ABC Man [ December 21, 2017 @ 11:33AM ]

    So why did the customer sign the bill of sale if it had a $1,995 etch charge. I'm surprised that in this day and age that anyone would still sell etch.

  2. 2. Ed Miller [ December 21, 2017 @ 12:01PM ]

    Ken Garff group sells this in all of their stores! Unreal in this day and age.

  3. 3. KN [ December 21, 2017 @ 12:43PM ]

    Look at the stores. Mitsubishi and Suzuki. That should tell you something.

  4. 4. MK [ December 21, 2017 @ 07:22PM ]

    Most likely subprime customers and this was the dealers profit margin. Go after the dealer for them trying to make a profit selling to subprime customers and soon all the subprime customers will be walking or riding bikes.

  5. 5. George Spatt [ December 22, 2017 @ 08:21AM ]

    It is a shame that most of the article, and comments for that matter, focus on the product instead of the abuse. When properly applied, and sold at a reasonable price, window etch is a very viable theft deterent. Most of the companies who offer the additional guarantee of $2,500 or more do not add many conditions to receive that payment. The plain fact is that benefit is rarely paid because thieves do not steal etched vehicles. That, after all, is the ultimate benefit. In Connecticut there are very strict requirements to offer this product including the number etched must be the VIN. That adds another level of protection IMO. In Florida, this product falls under the strict rules of a Vehicle Service Contract. Unfortunately this product has had a reputation as a tool of abuse since its inception. But, as I said, the focus should be on the "abuser", and the victims, not on the tool.

  6. 6. Fred Williams [ December 23, 2017 @ 04:05PM ]

    Findlay Auto Dealerships in Las Vegas and Henderson Nevada made the sale of etch mandatory to every customer while I was a finance manager at their dealership. Don’t know if this is still the practice.

  7. 7. Rodney Williams [ December 23, 2017 @ 08:34PM ]

    I remember when customers at a dealership that I worked for would come back in the following day or week after they make their purchase and would ask what the $179 charge on their contract for. The finance manager would reply, “Didn’t your salesman show you when they did the walk around?” That was peanuts compared to what these guys charged and got away with. They had grande huevos!

  8. 8. Cory [ January 03, 2018 @ 10:32AM ]

    Etch is still a legit and viable product...when sold correctly. Correctly, meaning when it is actually applied to the vehicle AND you charge your customer an appropriate amount, say $199. Even at $199 you can still make more than $100 profit per car and give the customer added protection at an affordable cost. For those that don't believe in the product, you have to think of it as a layer of protection. Etched windows do deter thieves. It won't PREVENT a thief from stealing your car but just like the door lock on the front door of your home, that won't prevent a thief from breaking into your home. You protect your house with door locks, alarm system, ring doorbell, a dog, each being a layer of protection. Thieves take the easy route, they're lazy. protect your car by locking the doors, marking your car, smart key, alarm, each being a layer of protection. Each layer provides more protection. IF you have a Theft contract and your car is stolen there is a monetary benefit for the customer. Again. there is a benefit to selling Etch...for the correct amount.

  9. 9. EJB [ January 04, 2018 @ 12:20PM ]

    If the customer is explained all the products 100% of the time...every time...the benefits of all products..more sales will be made and more profit will come. It is a shame that most finance managers are not good at the job they do! The weak ones need to lie to make a living. SABOD!

  10. 10. Vincent [ March 12, 2018 @ 12:05PM ]

    This is a shame !

  11. 11. David [ April 25, 2018 @ 08:06PM ]

    Etch is nothing but a scam. The conditions that have to be met to get any payout are insane. Might be some value if there was a payout for a window getting stolen vs. the entire vehicle. Hope all States eventually ban this practice.


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UPDATED: Core F&I Product Could Put Some Auto Finance Deals Under Military Lending Act’s Requirements

Based on an interpretive rule issued by the Defense Department on Dec. 14, including credit-protection products like GAP in a servicemember’s vehicle finance contract could subject it to a slew of restrictions and requirements under the Military Lending Act (MLA).