New Jersey state law protects consumers against fraud. Nevertheless, fraud still happens and when a consumer is the victim they may have recourse under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. As a recent case illustrates, complaints of this kind are handled by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and can often lead to compensation.
A used luxury car dealership, 21st Century Auto Group, Inc. of Springfield, New Jersey, was the subject of over 40 consumer complaints. In 2013, the Division of Consumer Affairs decided to file a lawsuit against them. The Division asserted that the dealership had broken multiple laws including the Consumer Fraud Act, Lemon Law, advertising and sales rules. Customers had various specific complaints. They claimed that the business deceived them by omitting that the vehicles they were interested in had been rental cars or were damaged in an accident. They also claimed that the business engaged in deceptive advertising practices by refusing to sell certain vehicles for the advertised price as well drawing customers in with an advertisement of a vehicle that had already been sold and then trying to sell them another. It was also alleged that the business was slow to accommodate customers who decided they did not want the vehicle they had contracted for and requested the return of their trade-in or deposit.
The dealership decided to settle with the Division of Consumer Affairs. They agreed to pay $130,000 including civil penalties, attorney’s fees and reimbursement to the state for its expenditures. As part of the settlement, the dealership is also required to hire a compliance monitor for the next year to ensure that they are abiding by regulations and the terms of the settlement. They must also work with the 43 consumers that made complaints against them to remedy the wrongs they committed. If the parties cannot agree they will be subjected to alternative dispute resolution, the outcome of which they will be bound by.
When a consumer is subjected to fraud or deceptive practices by a business in the motor vehicle industry they do have options. A reputable Lemon Law attorney can assist clients with these issues right away.