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Dealership owners in NJ fined $1.8 million for deceiving consumers

Carmelo and Ignazio Giuffre have reached a  settlement with the New Jersey Department of Consumer
Carmelo and Ignazio Giuffre have reached a settlement with the New Jersey Department of Consumer
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Carmelo and Ignazio Giuffre have reached a $1.8 million settlement with the New Jersey Department of Consumer over “deceptive” sales practices including failure to inform customers of previous damage or defects, tacking on after-sale costs without prior customer approval and failing to honor advertised or negotiated prices at their 8 dealerships throughout the state.The dealerships involved are: Route 22 Toyota, Route 22 Honda, Route 22 Nissan and Route 22 Kia, all in Hillside; Hackettstown Honda and Hudson Honda in West New York; Freehold Hyundai in Freehold and Freehold Chrysler-Jeep in South Freehold, must either “ provide restitution for or dispute the complaints, and hire a compliance monitor for two years at their own cost, “ according to New Jersey acting attorney general John Hoffman.

“Purchasing a new or used vehicle can be an intimidating process,” added Steve Lee, acting director for the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

“This settlement is intended to ensure that these dealerships will not again violate our laws or deceive potential customers.”

Although, a spokesman for the Guiffre’s stated that the dealerships had agreed to pay the fine, in order to “avoid costly and prolonged litigation,” they insisted that doing so was “not meant to be an admission of guilt.” However, Hoffman noted that the pair had been found guilty of similar practices back in 1999, at which time they were forced to pay out $450,000 ($250,000 of which went into a compensatory fund for the buyers).

“The consequences of this new settlement are particularly appropriate in light of the fact that the owners of these dealerships allegedly violated an earlier settlement reached fifteen years ago, when they had pledged not to engage in such practices,” he added.

In the meantime, the Guiffres said that they intend on implementing a new program that will offer consumers a “ haggle-free sales” experience by offering potential buyers identical prices based on “independent and public, third-party data will promote transparency.“

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