BOSTON —The owner of a South Shore used car business has been sued for allegedly selling unsafe and unreliable used cars, failing to make repairs which were promised or required under warranties, and operating in unlicensed locations, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
“People depend on car dealers to sell them a vehicle that is safe and reliable for everyday use,” AG Healey said. “The public is put at risk as long as these defective vehicles are on the roadway, and our office will work to ensure that this business is no longer deceiving consumers into purchasing unsafe, unreliable vehicles.”
The complaint against Auto Number One, Inc. and its owner Mark Hanna of Abington, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that they routinely made false representations to consumers that cars were in good working order or would be repaired, about prices charged and about warranty periods. The business allegedly failed to issue refunds to consumers who attempted to return vehicles after discovering, within days, substantial defects which made the cars unfit for the road.
The AG’s Office obtained a preliminary injunction on Monday, Feb. 23 against the defendants, prohibiting them from advertising or selling vehicles from any location not properly licensed, or from engaging in the kinds of unfair and deceptive practices the AG alleges they have committed to date. The court also ordered the defendants’ bank accounts frozen.
Many consumers purchased vehicles from Auto Number One because they were lured by offers of “low or no down payment” with guaranteed financing, but Hanna had consumers fill out blank contracts. Consumers believed they were purchasing cars for a certain agreed-upon price, only to learn after receiving a copy of their purchase agreements that the total purchase was at least twice the agreed-upon purchase price. On one occasion, a consumer was charged $10,000 more than the agreed-upon price of $3,500 for a used vehicle that still required costly repairs.
Some consumers whose vehicles required extensive and expensive repairs sought full refunds, or assistance with making repairs, but they were allegedly ignored or turned away by Hanna. He allegedly told one consumer that “it’s not my problem,” despite repeated attempts to contact him. Hanna also misrepresented the status of the warranty to consumers during the time Auto Number One held the car for alleged repairs.
Auto Number One, which previously operated out of locations in Weymouth and Quincy, presently advertises vehicles for sale from a lot located in Abington. The AG’s complaint alleges that Auto Number One advertised and sold vehicles from a location on Washington Street in Weymouth, even though it did not hold a dealership license for this location and could only perform auto repairs, and advertised and sold vehicles from an unlicensed lot located on Adams Street in Quincy. In order to operate as a used vehicle dealership, or to display used motor vehicles for sale, a person must obtain a license from the city or town.