Consumer News Alert: Local auto group to pay $3.6 million to settle charges filed with the Federal Trade Commission after DCBA investigation

Consumers encouraged to shop wisely when shopping for vehicles and to contact DCBA if they’ve been victimized by predatory sales tactics

Updated March 14, 2017

The story:

Today the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Sage Auto Group agreed to pay more than $3.6 million to settle FTC charges filed in September 2016 after numerous consumer complaints were filed with DCBA during the course of an 18-month investigation. The settlement must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California before restitution will be made to consumers affected.

The FTC action accused nine auto dealers owned by the Sage Auto Group of using a wide range of deceptive and unfair sales and finance practices, such as refusing to sell cars for the advertised price, adding service contracts and insurance policies to contracts without telling customers, and misleading customers into thinking they were financing a purchase, when in reality they were signing a lease. The action also accused the defendants of targeting financially distressed and non-English speaking consumers.

The following dealers were listed in the complaint: Universal City Nissan, Inc., also d/b/a Universal Nissan; Sage Downtown, Inc., also d/b/a Kia of Downtown Los Angeles; Glendale Nissan/Infiniti, Inc., also d/b/a Glendale Infiniti and Glendale Nissan; Valencia Holding Co., LLC, also d/b/a Mercedes-Benz of  Valencia; West Covina Auto Group, LLC, also d/b/a West Covina Toyota and West Covina Toyota/Scion; West Covina Nissan, LLC; Covina MJL, LLC, also d/b/a Sage Covina Chevrolet; Sage North Hollywood, LLC, also d/b/a Sage Pre-Owned; and Sage Vermont, LLC, also d/b/a Sage Hyundai.

DCBA suggests:

Before stepping foot onto a dealership, familiarize yourself with the California Car Buyers’ Bill of Rights.

If the dealer agrees to arrange financing, but you cannot get it at the promised interest rate, the deal is off. The dealer cannot charge you for the use of the car.

Review contracts carefully and don’t sign on the spot.Businesses must give you a copy of a contract in the language that you speak (with few exceptions). This allows you to read and understand the contract before you sign the English language original.

For more tips on car purchases, review our infographic below.

If you need to file a complaint against a dealership or need more information, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (800) 593-8222.