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Monday, August 18, 2008

Sour deal? Buyers didn't get Lemon Law disclosures

Seventy-nine customers who bought secondhand Hummers and Cadillac Escalades from a dealership in Fife didn't get all the legal disclosures about the vehicles' history, according to the state Attorney General's Office.

The AG's office reached a settlement Friday with McCann Motors in which the auto dealership agreed to notify the customers of what happened and offer to work out a suitable resolution. The dealership did not admit wrongdoing but agreed to pay $12,000 in state attorneys' fees and costs.

Buyers didn't get a notice that the cars were reacquired by their manufacturer under California's Lemon Law before being resold in Washington, the office said.

If you buy a car in Washington, the state's Lemon Law and other consumer laws protect you by requiring certain disclosures about the vehicle.

"The price of prestige probably was too high for some of these buyers who paid up to $50,000 for luxury cars but may have negotiated differently had they received the required Lemon Law disclosures," consumer protection division chief Doug Walsh said.

The buyers signed paperwork that included a notice that the cars had been repurchased under a California Lemon buyback law, but they didn't get special disclosures that the state contends would have made it more obvious that these cars could have potential problems, he added.

State law requires that a bright yellow flier be placed in the window of the car that reads "Lemon Law Resale Notice of Nonconformity or Serious Safety Defect" and that customers get documents telling them that the title will include a statement that the vehicle was previously returned to the manufacturer and this may affect the vehicle's future resale value.

The state alleged that failure to provide those disclosures violated state laws.

Article by Phuong Cat Le, Consumer Smarts Blog

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