State Sues Luxury Car Dealer For Alleged Bait & Switch Tactics

John J. Hoffman

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman

NEWARK – Acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman and the State Division of Consumer Affairs today announced a lawsuit against 21st Century Auto Group, Inc., a dealership that sells high-end used luxury cars such as Lamborghinis and BMWs, for alleged bait-and-switch and other deceptive tactics affecting more than 80 consumers.

The lawsuit, filed by the Division of Law in State Superior Court in Union County, alleges that the dealership, in Springfield, committed multiple violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations.

“Our investigation uncovered a pattern of allegedly deceptive practices that dates back several years and that cost individual consumers hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, with no regard for their rights or for the law,” Hoffman said. “This type of conduct harms consumers and tarnishes the reputation of an entire industry. Our primary goal is to obtain full restitution for the customers allegedly abused by these tactics.”

The Division of Consumer Affairs has received 84 consumer complaints to date. Consumers allege the company exploited them through numerous unlawful, deceptive practices including, among others: bait-and-switch; refusing to honor the advertised or agreed-upon prices for vehicles; refusing to return deposits after consumers had canceled their sales transactions; refusing to issue warranties or to honor warranties that had been issued; requiring consumers to sign blank sale documents; and refusing to provide sale documents after consumers signed them.

“Our findings of a repeated history of alleged manipulation and deception of unwary consumers is disturbing and necessitated action,” Kanefsky said. “Whether a consumer is buying a Lamborghini or a Hyundai, they have the right to be treated ethically and honestly by the dealership.”

The company also allegedly failed to provide consumers with title and registration to used vehicles prior to their expiration; and on one occasion allegedly sold a used vehicle without obtaining a lien release from the prior owner.

Other consumers alleged that they were drawn to 21st Century by online ads promising specific vehicles at specific, attractive prices. When they arrived at the dealership, employees told them the vehicles they wanted had been sold – and attempted to sell them higher-priced cars.

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