The Federal Trade Commission on Friday announced that North American Automotive Services, which also goes by Napleton Automotive Group, will pay $10 million in a settlement from a lawsuit brought on by the FTC and the state of Illinois.
Nine locations were listed as defendants in the lawsuit, including Napleton’s Ellwood Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ellwood City, which was filed at the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.
The lawsuit complaint claimed Napleton snuck illegal junk fees for unwanted “add-ons” onto customers’ bills, and that the company discriminated against Black consumers by charging them more for financing.
The complaint said the fees included payment insurance and paint protection. The illegal junk fees cost consumers hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, according to the document.
A survey cited in the complaint showed 83% of buyers from the dealerships were charged junk fees for add-ons without authorization, or as a result of deception.
Specifically, the complaint states that Napleton’s Ellwood was one of the locations that violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
The complaint also alleges that the Napleton dealerships discriminated against Black consumers in connection with financing vehicle purchases, such as charging approximately $190 more in interest, and Black customers paying $99 more for similar add-ons.
The court filing states the defendants neither admit nor deny any of the allegations in the complaint, except as specifically stated in the order, and that the defendants, only for the purposes of this action, admit the facts necessary to establish jurisdiction.
The defendants, in the filing, waive any claim they may have under the Equal Access to Justice Act, concerning the prosecution of this action through the date of the order, and agree to bear their own costs and attorney fees. Both the plaintiffs and defendants agreed to waive all rights to an appeal, or otherwise challenge or contest the validity of the order.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement with the FTC and the State of Illinois, $9.95 million of the $10 million judgment will be used to provide monetary relief to consumers, and $50,000 will be paid to the Illinois Attorney General Court Ordered and Voluntary Compliance Payment Projects Fund.
The settlement will require the defendants to establish a comprehensive fair lending program that, among other components, will cap the additional interest markup they can charge consumers. The settlement also requires the defendants to charge consumers only with express, informed consent, and prohibits them from misrepresenting the cost or terms to buy, lease, or finance a car, or whether a fee or charge is optional.
This article originally appeared on Ellwood City Ledger: Napleton Autmotive Group agrees to $10 million settlement