Attorney General Tom Corbett said that from 2004 to 2007 the Bureau of Consumer Protection received 51 consumer complaints related to eBay vehicle auctions conducted by All Pro. The complaints included disputes about the accuracy of vehicle descriptions, differences between the advertised condition and the actual condition of the vehicles, conflicting information about warranties and the refusal to return consumer deposits for cancelled sales.
Under the AVC, All Pro must pay $6,600 in civil penalties, along with $5,000 for consumer education and future public protection services. On top of that, the AG’s release noted that the dealership has already paid over $20,000 in restitution to complaining consumers. Not included in these numbers are the amount All Pro had to pay its own lawyers and the loss of management time dealing with the AG.
The AG said the settlement also requires All Pro to take steps to comply with Pennsylvania's Consumer Protection Law and state auto sales regulations for all future transactions. Specifically, All Pro must:
- Clearly identify vehicles being sold "as is"
- Not extend or suggest any warranties that conflict with "as is" sales
- Honor all warranties that are offered
- Not sell vehicles which are unroadworthy
- Return deposits for cancelled transactions unless consumers have agreed that those funds are non-returnable
- Disclose the All Pro dealership name in all sales and promotional materials
- Notify Pennsylvania authorities of any proposed name or structure change in the company
If you are a dealer in a state other than Pennsylvania (OK, Pennsylvania’s actually a commonwealth instead of a state, but that’s another article), you might think that you don’t need to be concerned about the Pennsylvania AG’s activities. You’d be wrong.
First, keep in mind that we’re writing about a press release. Granted, it won’t get a lot of play outside of Pennsylvania and that state’s immediate environs, but it is posted on the AG’s Web site and it will draw some attention. After all, I found it, didn’t I? More importantly, the AGs don’t operate in isolation. They meet regularly and trade war stories.
At the next such meeting, the Pennsylvania AG will be crowing about his latest dealership enforcement trophy. The other AGs in attendance will have a lot of interest in this enforcement action and will be sure to ask for all the details. You can bet that some of them will return to their home states and tell their folks to peruse their complaint files for eBay-related auto complaints. That’s a list where you don’t want to see your dealership’s name.
Vol 5, Issue 4