Nov. 8, 2021 By Christian Murray
Two used-car auto dealerships—one based in Woodside and the other in Brooklyn—have been accused by the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) of illegally bilking buyers out of thousands of dollars and face the loss of their dealership licenses and hefty fines.
JF Motors, which is headquartered at 60-20 Northern Boulevard, and Kings Autoshow, which operates two Brooklyn locations, allegedly advertised their vehicles at highly-competitive prices only to charge consumers thousands more than advertised through bogus fees.
For example, JF Motors, which operates Automania and Luxury Automotive Club, advertised a 2017 Honda Civic for an “internet special price” of $15,795, then added illegal fees—bringing the cash price to $23,780, according to the complaint.
DCWP is charging the JF Motors family of dealerships with more than 9,000 violations and seeks more than $100,000 in restitution for nine consumers. The agency also seeks civil penalties, and the revocation of its dealership licenses.
In its case against Kings Autoshow, which operates two Brooklyn Mitsubishi locations, DCWP is charging the company with more than more than 7,000 violations and seeking more than $50,000 in restitution for 34 consumers, civil penalties, and revocation of both of its licenses.
“These dealerships repeatedly victimized their customers and violated consumer protection laws,” said DCWP Commissioner Peter A. Hatch in a statement. “We are taking action to a put a stop to their exploitative practices, obtain restitution for the consumers they harmed, and to revoke their licenses so they cannot do this again.”
JF Motors’ dealerships, according to the complaint, charged consumers a number of bogus fees above the advertised price.
The company also marketed its vehicles as “Certified Pre-owned” by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA), when essentially they were not, according to the complaint.
The company then charged an illegal mandatory “certification fee,” a practice in violation of consumer protection laws. In some cases, the bogus certification fee was $3,000 or more– even though the vehicles weren’t truly certified.
The “certified pre-owned” designation also allowed the dealerships to hike the original sales price, according to the complaint, since a CPO vehicle typical sells for about $1,000 more than the same model with no certification.
CPO vehicles are required to go through a 125-point inspection by a qualified mechanic. Furthermore, buyers of CPO vehicles receive a 10-year/100,000 warranty and are given a vehicle history report.
The JF Motors dealerships, however, did not make repairs when vehicles broke down—often with issues that should have been discovered during the 125-point inspection, according to the complaint.
Furthermore, the JF Motors dealerships required some consumers to purchase “vehicle service contracts” despite the 10-year warranty that is supposed to come with a certified pre owned vehicle. The contracts often equated to more than $3,000 on top of the advertised sales price.
There were also cases of random bogus fees, according to the complaint. Some were charged for tire and wheel insurance or theft deterrent systems. They were not itemized on the sales contract—just added to the price.
One buyer discovered he was charged $1,979 for a theft deterrent system that was never requested or installed, according to the complaint.
The cases will be heard by the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), which will make a determination.
JF Motors and Kings Autoshow could not be reached for comment.
DCWP encourages New Yorkers who are looking to buy a used car to read the Used Car Consumer Bill of Rights, which dealerships are required to post and give to each consumer before they sign a sales contract.
The Bill of Rights must be provided to the consumer in the language in which the contract was negotiated if the translation is available on DCWP’s website.