MINEOLA, N.Y. — Bellavia Blatt & Crossett filed a second mass action lawsuit against TrueCar on July 30, this time representing 100 dealerships that are currently affiliated with the car-shopping site.
In March, the law firm filed a mass action lawsuit on behalf of 117 — now over 200 — non-affiliated dealerships, alleging that TrueCar’s business practices have injured its former dealer partners and dealers that do not subscribe to the service by “poaching” customers in their market area.
According to the lawsuit filed last week, TrueCar is violating California deceptive practices statutes by claiming to be “transparent” with “no hidden fees” and "no surprises” — when in fact it charges dealers a $299 new-car and $399 used-car transaction fee that gets passed along to the consumer in the price of the vehicle.
“We will be seeking a court order requiring TrueCar to openly disclose in its advertising and on the guaranteed savings certificate that there is a $299/$399 fee participating dealers pay that may affect the selling price of the vehicle,” said Leonard Bellavia, senior partner at Bellavia Blatt & Crossett. “We will also seek a declaration that TrueCar's business model is illegal in most states, as it is not properly licensed.”
Bellavia added that dealers subscribing to TrueCar are damaged because they do not wish to be complicit in violating consumer fraud statutes. The lawsuit alleges that TrueCar is acting as a car dealer and broker without the proper licenses. And if consumers knew about the fees prior to their dealership visit, the dealer would then be protected from joint liability, Bellavia added.
TrueCar has called the allegations “meritless.”
“In the first case, TrueCar recently filed a motion to dismiss — essentially arguing that all of its promises are simply ‘puffery,’” Bellavia said. “It went so far as to quote a case that held it could lie through its teeth with impunity, as consumers would not take any of the promises seriously.”
The lawsuit is similar to one filed in May by the California New Car Dealer Association, which alleges that TrueCar is not in compliance with certain sections of the California Vehicle Code pertaining to dealer licensing, brokering, advertising and disclosure.