BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and a family-owned franchised dealership have settled a complaint over ads the regulator deemed deceptive.
McGee Wholesale Cars, McGee Motorcars Inc. and McGee Chevrolet Inc. agreed to pay $225,000 in civil penalties, restitution and attorneys' fees to resolve Coackley’s charges, which included the placement of online and print ads that allegedly misrepresented the actual prices of the vehicles sold. The advertisements allegedly listed the dealer cost rather than the actual selling price, misleading buyers into thinking the cars were being offered at prices the dealerships never intended to meet.
"We are pleased that the company has agreed to provide restitution to consumers and has taken important steps to make sure that misleading business practices do not occur in the future," Coakley said.
The dealerships’ employees were also charged with asking consumers to sign incomplete documents that they claimed would be completed using the negotiated vehicle price. However, information was allegedly added later that raised the price of the vehicles. Employees also allegedly charged fees for undisclosed or unwanted services and F&I products.
Under the terms of the consent judgment, the dealership must pay $125,000 in consumer restitution, $85,000 in civil penalties and $15,000 for attorneys' costs and fees. The judgment also prohibits sales practices and deceptive marketing, and requires the dealership to implement a formal training program to teach sales and F&I staffers how to properly comply with state regulations.
The dealership cooperated with Coakley on this matter and implemented procedural and managerial changes to address issues raised by the case. It admits no liability or wrongdoing as part of the agreement.