The Office of the Attorney General and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs have reached a settlement with JDN AA, LLC (“JDN AA”), which operates Newton Audi and Newton Volkswagen auto dealerships, resolving an action filed by the State in June 2015. As part of the settlement, JDN AA, LLC has agreed to pay $50,000 to the State. This payment includes $31,655.95 in civil penalties, with the balance reimbursing the State for its legal and investigative costs.
The State’s four-count complaint, filed in State Superior Court in Sussex County alleged that, among other things, JDN AA committed unconscionable commercial practices, did not disclose required information in advertisements, and did not pay required Used Car Lemon Law fees.
“These actions and the resulting settlements should send the message that dealerships must comply with state consumer protection laws or risk serious legal consequences,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “This settlement ensures that consumers will receive transparency and honesty from this dealership, as required by law.”
As part of the settlement, JDN AA must comply with all applicable laws and regulations in its future business practices. JDN AA also must work with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs during the next year to resolve any new consumer complaints.
“The Division of Consumer Affairs has brought several actions this year against auto dealerships for consumer fraud and unconscionable business practices,” said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “Consumers who are thinking about purchasing vehicles must have certain important information about the vehicles they are considering,” Lee also noted JDN AA’s cooperation in reaching a quick resolution of this matter.
Under terms of the settlement, among other things, JDN AA agreed to:
- not add or charge for after sale item[s] without the consumer’s written authorization;
- not represent to consumers that the purchase of an after sale item is mandatory when, in fact, it is not;
- identify, in writing, any and all after sale items, whether provided to consumers at no additional charge or purchased by consumers;
- provide a written document containing a clear statement of cost for an after sale item[s], and obtain the consumers’ written acknowledgment to purchase such after sale item[s], for any after sale item[s] purchased by a consumer;
- provide consumers with an opportunity to review all sales documents prior to signing;
- not require consumers to execute any blank or incomplete sales documents;
- provide consumers with complete copies of all signed sales documents;
- include the statement that “price(s) include(s) all costs to be paid by consumer, except for licensing costs, registration fees, and taxes,” in advertisements;
- honor all terms of a negotiated deal concerning the sale of a used motor vehicle; and
- not sell a motor vehicle without possession of the title to the motor vehicle.
Newton Audi and Newton VW are located on Hampton House Road in Newton.
Investigator Kelly Fennell, in the Division of Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection, conducted the investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Alina Wells in the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section of the Division of Law represented the State in this matter.