Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman Announces Lawsuit Against Koeppel Nissan, Inc., Koeppel Cars of Bayside, Inc., Koeppel Mazda, Koeppel Auto Group, and Koeppel Volkswagen, Inc. for Alleged Deceptive Practices that Illegally Inflated Car Prices
Jan 20 16
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a lawsuit against several Queens auto dealerships: Koeppel Nissan, Inc., Koeppel Cars of Bayside, Inc. d/b/a Koeppel Subaru, Koeppel Mazda, Koeppel Auto Group, and Koeppel Volkswagen, Inc., (collectively, "Koeppel" or "Koeppel dealerships"). The lawsuit, filed in New York supreme court, alleges that the Koeppel dealerships, all owned by the Koeppel family, unlawfully sold after-sale products and services, including credit repair and identity theft protection services to 1,426 consumers that sometimes exceeded a cost of $2,000 per consumer. According to the lawsuit, the Koeppel dealerships used deceptive sales tactics, including charging consumers for services while concealing such charges from the consumers, or by misrepresenting that the services were free. In fact, consumers did not receive the credit repair and identity theft protection services for which they were charged. The court papers also allege that the Koeppel dealerships collected more than $1 million from consumers between January 2013 and November 2014 for the credit repair and identity theft protection services alone using such deceptive tactics. The suits seek a court order prohibiting the Koeppel dealerships from engaging in these kinds of practices in the future and directing them to refund all illegally obtained overcharges to consumers. The Koeppel dealerships arranged with an independent company, Credit Forget It, Inc., to sell Credit Forget it's credit repair and identity theft protection services beginning no later than early 2013. It is a violation of state and federal law to charge upfront fees for services that promise to help consumers restore or improve their credit. Contracts that violate the credit repair laws are void. The court papers further allege that the Koeppel dealerships added on charges for other after-sale items like VIN etching and key replacement services, without clearly disclosing what they were charging for such services. The costs of these services were often bundled into the vehicle sales price and not separately itemized. As a result, unknown to the consumer, the price of the car stated on purchase and lease documents was inflated by the amount of these after-sale items. In addition, the Koeppel complaint alleges that the dealerships sometimes negotiated purchase and lease terms with consumers in Spanish and then only provided contracts and documents in English. New York City law requires that when the terms of an installment agreement are negotiated in Spanish, the seller must provide documents translated into Spanish.