It seems like every week there’s some kind of lawsuit going on with some dealership somewhere. Between stealing customer information so salespeople can enrich themselves to stealing from the lenders who fund their deals directly, some of them are bold. Take two Arizona Nissan dealerships, for example. Automotive News reports that the dealers have to pay customers nearly half a million dollars in restitution after using low prices to lure customers in, then forcing them to pay for add ons.
The two Phoenix area dealerships, ABC Nissan and Pinnacle Nissan are both owned by Berkshire Hathaway Automotive. The grift: The Arizona attorney general’s office alleges that the dealerships would advertise cars for low prices. Low enough to get customers to come on in. Once there, the dealer would tell the customers they weren’t going to honor the prices they advertised. Instead, the dealers would tell customers they’d have to purchase bullshit add ons to get the car for that price.
…both ABC and Pinnacle Nissan engaged in false advertising when they advertised low vehicle prices online but refused to sell those vehicles for the advertised prices. The AGO alleges that ABC and Pinnacle Nissan would tell consumers they had to purchase certain “add-on” accessories, such as nitrogen in the tires, an exterior protective coating, door edge guards, door cups, or window tint. These add-on accessories raised the price of the vehicle above the advertised sales price.
The dealers deny the allegations of course. They claim that the accessories were optional, except the evidence says otherwise. Even if customers asked for the add ons to be removed, the dealers made excuses. From the judgment:
In some instances, employees informed the consumer that certain add-on accessories had been installed already on the vehicle and could not be removed, thus increasing the price of the vehicle above the advertised price. In other instances, Pinnacle employees informed consumers that they could not remove the add-on accessories, because if they removed the add-on accessories for one person, then they would have to remove add-on accessories for everyone.
Now, the dealers have to pay up for violating Arizona state law. The final judgment is pending approval, but both dealerships will have to pay over $500,000 in restitution and fees to Arizona consumers. The judgment also orders the dealers to be honest and transparent about pricing and add ons. It’s sad that it has to take a court order to make a business conduct itself in the right way. But greed will do that to you.