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AG Hill warns of illegal dealership fees

Photo Supplied: Indiana Attorney General's Office

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO) – Attorney General Curtis Hill is telling Hoosiers to watch out for added fees put on by auto dealerships at the time of purchase.

Fees that are added on by dealers can increase the final purchase price by thousands of dollars, and sometimes they might violate state law.

Two Clark County dealerships were recently investigated by the Office of the Attorney General based on allegations of this kind of behavior.  Both dealerships made agreements with the State of Indiana which says they must pay civil penalties and pledge to stop certain business practices.  The dealerships have not admitted to doing anything illegal and they have not been implicated for any violations as part of the agreement.

The first dealership involved was Kia of Clarksville.  They added a “Kia Total Protection Package” sticker to all new vehicles. The protection package featured mudguards, all-weather mats, and a spare tire kit.  The cost increase to the vehicle was $3,990.  The sticker also listed the manufacturer’s warranties as part of the protection package.  However, the manufacturer’s warranty was already part of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

The terms of the agreement by the Clark County Circuit Court, Kia of Clarksville must remove all references to warranties and roadside assistance packages from added stickers.  They also must include costs of any added packages in the advertised vehicle prices.  Kia of Clarksville also agreed to pay a monetary payment of $57,000 as a civil penalty.

The second dealership involved was Neil Huffman Honda.  They advertised a “protection package” sticker on all new vehicles.  The packed increased the sales price of the vehicle by $1,995. Included in the package were mudguards, all-weather mats, and a key chain.  The added sticker listed Honda’s roadside assistance program as part of the package.  However, that benefit is already provided by Honda and is included in the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.  The dealership package also included two years of certified maintenance, even though the dealership offered and advertised the same maintenance program as free for each new and used vehicle.

In the terms of the agreement signed by Neil Huffman Honda, the dealership must remove all references to roadside assistance and certified maintenance from all added stickers.  They must also include the costs of any added packages in the advertised prices of all vehicles. The dealership also agreed to pay a monetary payment of $53,000 as a civil penalty.

Those who believe that they have encountered these types of practices at any other dealership in Indiana are urged to report them to the Office of the Attorney General.  Consumers can do so by going online at www.in.gov/attorneygeneral or by calling 1-800-382-5516.

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