NEWARK, N.J. — A used car dealership has been ordered to pay $693,645.91 after a Superior Court Judge found that it violated state consumer protection laws and regulations a total of 640 times.
The state’s ten-count complaint against RLMB Inc., filed this March, alleged that RLMB and its manager, Michael L. Bloom, violated the Consumer Fraud Act, the Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations, the Automotive Sales Regulations, the Used Car Lemon Law (UCLL) and UCLL regulations by, among other things, advertising used motor vehicles for sale without disclosing to consumers the vehicle’s prior damage or prior use; selling vehicles “as is” when they qualified for a warranty; and permitting third parties to advertise, offer for sale and/or sell used motor vehicles on Craigslist that were titled to RLMB.
The dealership and Bloom failed to file a response to the complaint, resulting in Judge Stephan C. Hansbury entering a final judgment by default. The judgment requires the defendants to pay $640,000 in civil penalties, $31,200.91 in reimbursement to the State for its legal and investigative costs and $22,445 in restitution to seven consumers. By the terms of the judgment, the dealership must comply with all applicable state laws and regulations in its business practices.
“The penalty ordered in this matter is appropriate and should send a clear message to all motor vehicle dealerships that violating our consumer protection laws and regulations comes at a steep price,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “We are continuing to review the practices of new and used motor vehicle dealers to ensure consumers are not taken advantage of.”
“The evidence presented to the court by the Division of Consumer Affairs, resulted in a favorable decision for consumers,” said Acting State Director of Consumer Affairs Steve Lee. “Dealerships must not withhold information from consumers that the dealerships are required by law to provide.”
According to the complaint, RLMB required consumers to sign blank sales documents, did not prominently display the Federal Trade Commission Used Car Buyers Guide in vehicles for sale, did not conspicuously post the total sale price of vehicles, failed to itemize documentary service fees, and did not pay the $.50 administrative fee for each used motor vehicle sold, as required by the UCLL, among other things.