N.Y. auto dealership hit by lawsuit over altered prices‏

Nick Rees Nov. 23, 2009, 4:35pm

Andrew Cuomo (D)

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - A St. James car dealership is the target of a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo for surreptitiously altering contract prices after agreeing to a different price and terms with consumers.

The lawsuit follows dozens of complaints lodged with Cuomo's office abou Smithtown Nissan and owner Joseph O. Rubio's deceptive sales practices which allegedly include adding unwanted and costly options to sales contracts or simply charging more for a car than what had been agreed to buy consumers.

Smithtown Nissan's practices, the complaints allege, resulted in consumers believing that they were paying one price for a vehicle while being charged much more.

Cuomo's investigation into Smithtown Nissan found that the dealership was in violation of a 2004 agreement with the attorney general's office prohibiting it from engaging in deceptive business practices.

"Based on this owner's history, this appears to be a new twist on an old scam," Cuomo said. "Consumers agreed to pay one price and then received a rude awakening when they found the contract terms had been changed without their consent."

The dealership was also found, through the course of the investigation, to have routinely failed to provide customers with copies of their contracts, which is required by state law.

Other deceptive practices at the expense of unsuspecting customers by Smithtown Nissan were also uncovered by the investigation, including the addition of undisclosed extended warranties, service contracts, options and fees without consent.

Repeated inquiries from customers who were seeking the cancellation of the added-on services and extended warranties were ignored by the dealership, Cuomo's investigation found.

Cuomo's lawsuit seeks a court order barring Smithtown Nissan from engaging in any deceptive practices and asks for restitution for defrauded consumers as well as penalties and costs to the state.

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