Auto dealerships, owners agree to $1.8M deal to resolve alleged deceptive sales practices


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TRENTON, New Jersey — State consumer affairs officials say eight New Jersey car dealerships and their owners will pay $1.8 million to resolve alleged deceptive sales practices.

The settlement also calls for the dealerships and their owners — Carmelo Giuffre, of Brooklyn, New York and Ignazio Giuffre, of Colts Neck — to attempt to resolve complaints filed by 45 customers by providing restitution or other relief under a binding arbitration process.

The companies also must hire a state-approved compliance monitor for two years to oversee operations and report back to state officials.

A spokesman for the dealerships said they voluntarily agreed to the consent order, noting it was not an admission of guilt. He said they wanted to avoid "costly and prolonged litigation" and focus on their business.

The dealerships included in the settlement are Route 22 Toyota, Route 22 Honda, Route 22 Nissan and Route 22 Kia, all in Hillside; Hackettstown Honda; Hudson Honda in West New York; and Freehold Hyundai and Freehold Chrysler Jeep.

The alleged deceptive practices cited by the state included failure to disclose existing mechanical defects or past damage to used cars; charging for supplemental warranties and other costly "after-sale items" without customers' consent, and failing to honor the negotiated or advertised prices for vehicles.

State officials had claimed the actions taken by the dealerships directly violated a settlement reached in February 1999 with the Giuffres and three of the dealerships. It called for them to pay $450,000, including $250,000 as a compensatory fund for customers, to settle similar complaints from consumers.

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