BRIDGEWATER – A car dealership headquartered on Route 22 has agreed to pay a $300,000 civil penalty to the state for alleged violations of New Jersey's consumer protection laws.
Open Road Auto Group, with 19 locations, including Edison, East Brunswick and Manhattan, was one of three dealerships making separate settlements with the state Division of Consumer Affairs, the state Office of Attorney General announced on Friday.
The other dealerships were Glen Motors in Fairlawn and Lynnes locations in Bloomfield. The three dealerships agreed to pay $400,000 in total.
In the voluntary settlement, Open Road also agreed to:
Disclose the total cost, the down payment, trade-in or rebate, if any, plus the total scheduled periodic payments in the advertisement of installment sales of motor vehicles.
Include a statement that "prices include all costs to be paid by consumer, except for licensing costs, registration fees, and taxes” in the advertisement of new or used motor vehicles.
Disclose in advertisements that a motor vehicle had been previously damaged and that substantial repair or body work has been performed.
Refrain from charging customers for work done or parts in excess of any estimate, without oral or written consent from the customer.
Accurately disclose the purchase price of any dealer-installed options.
Refrain from misrepresenting aftermarket merchandise such as service contracts and window etch are mandatory.
Itemize all aftermarket merchandise on leases, sales documents and contracts.
Refrain from charging consumers separately for a “destination charge” on any advertised motor vehicle when the cost is already included in the advertised price.
Provide consumers with an opportunity to review all lease documents prior to signing.
Open Road Auto Group also agreed to provide a $100 service credit coupon towards service, maintenance, or repair for all consumers who purchased a vehicle in 2017 and were charged a wash and detail fee.
In addition, Open Road will enter binding arbitration through the Division’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit to resolve all pending complaints and any additional consumer complaints received by the Division of Consumer Affairs for a period of three years.
“Dodging illegal practices should be the last thing New Jerseyans have to worry about as they search for a vehicle in this challenging market,” said Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin in a statement. “These settlements demonstrate our commitment to protect consumers and ensure transparency in the state’s auto market.”
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.
Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Open Road Auto Group pays to settle alleged NJ consumer law violations