BOSTON — Four affiliated car dealerships in western Massachusetts have agreed to pay a total of $175,000 to resolve allegations that they regularly published misleading advertising, then failed to follow through on sale prices and promotions, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Wednesday.
An assurance of discontinuance was filed Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court. It alleges that Country Nissan in Hadley, Country Hyundai in Northampton, Northampton Volkswagen, and Patriot Buick GMC in Charlton regularly ran deceptive advertising campaigns on television, radio, dealership websites, Facebook and Twitter.
The settlement resolves allegations against the dealerships’ owners and operators Carla Cosenzi of Longmeadow and Thomas Cosenzi of West Springfield, along with their affiliated companies, Tommy-Car Management Corp., Tommy-Car Corp., Tommy Car Advertising Inc., T & C Auto Corp., Country Hyundai, Inc., and Patriot Buick GMC Inc.
“We allege that these car dealers were luring consumers to their showrooms with misleading advertisements and refused to make good on the advertised sales and promotions,” Coakley said.
According to the settlement, the AG’s Office received complaints regarding the four car dealerships’ advertising and marketing practices and initiated an investigation. The AG’s Office alleges that these dealerships engaged in a pattern of advertising that suggests bait-and-switch tactics were used to lure consumers into their showrooms with sales and promotions that were not actually available.
As part of the investigation, the AG’s Office found that the defendants allegedly refused to sell vehicles in accordance with advertised terms or conditions. This included advertising certain sales or promotions that did not disclose all necessary or usual charges, and advertising sales and promotions without clearly and conspicuously disclosing all conditions. In addition, the AG’s office alleges that the company failed to pay the advertised price for trade-in vehicles or failed to disclose other conditions on the offer.
The settlement requires defendants to pay the Commonwealth $175,000 over six months and to permanently refrain from unfair or deceptive advertising practices in the future. The Cosenzis, who deny the allegations against them, cooperated fully with the attorney general’s investigation.