McKenna settles with auto dealer
OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - An agreement has been reached by Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna with an auto dealer that allegedly used misleading sales and advertising practices on its Latino customers.
C. Speck Motors operates several used and new car dealerships in the state, and it has pledged to resolve customer complaints stemming from issues addressed by the settlement and to clear all future advertisements and promotions through its attorney.
"This agreement drives home the message that honorable business practices aren't just a desired standard; they're the law," Assistant Attorney General Mary Lobdell said.
The state's investigation into C. Speck Motors began in late 2007 following complaints from primarily Latino customers alleging that the company failed to pay off trade-ins within two days, changed the terms of verbal agreements when preparing contracts and misrepresented the number of vehicles offered for sale at an advertised price.
The company was also alleged to have engaged in "bushing," wherein new loan terms are imposed after original terms have been agreed upon. Additionally, the company was alleged to have created the impression that offers sent in the mail originated from a government agency, conducted misleading prize promotions without clearly disclosing all terms of the offer and misrepresented the optional nature of the documentary fee or failing to advertise fee.
"When we brought the claims to C. Speck Motors' attention, the owner promptly fired her general manager, developed a new sales policy and procedures manual and required all employees to attend training," Lobdell said.
Under the agreement, which will be filed in Thurston County Superior Court, C. Speck Motors is required to work to resolve complaints from customers who purchased or lease vehicles who experienced any of the alleged problems addressed in the agreement. The company will also reimburse customers who are able to show that they responded to a promotional offer for a gasoline voucher but did not obtain the promised free fuel.
C. Speck Motors will also reimburse attorneys' fees and legal costs of $30,000 to the Attorney General's Office.