Attorney General takes action against York County towing company
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced her office has filed legal actions against three automobile-related companies. One Bucks County-based company is accused of failing to honor motor vehicle warranties, another based in the western part of the state advertised used cars in a misleading way and the third York-based company sold used cars without a license.
The legal actions were filed by the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. The Bureau conducts statewide sweeps of various car dealerships and reviews private online car listings as it seeks to find unlicensed individuals and others taking advantage of consumers.
“This work ensures people and businesses in the automobile industry are complying with the law,” Attorney General Kane said. “Consumers should feel confident they are dealing with someone trustworthy when they shop for a motor vehicle.”
Lawsuit against Internet company based in Bucks County
The Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Philadelphia office filed a lawsuit in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas against an Internet company based in Trevose that allegedly failed to offer refunds to consumers who properly cancelled their automobile warranties.
The lawsuit seeks a wide range of relief against Ivy League International, Ltd. and Guardian Web Company, LLC, which operated under the names AA Auto Protection and AA Auto Warranty. Their officers, Daniel J. Rorapaugh and Brett E. Hitchcock, were also named as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks restitution for consumers, civil penalties and a permanent injunction to stop the alleged violations of the law.
The Bureau of Consumer Protection alleges the defendants failed to honor their cancellation policy when they failed to offer refunds to eligible consumers. Moreover, the lawsuit alleges the defendants sold warranties administered by Administration Plus USA, which went out of business.
The lawsuit further alleges the defendants also advertised themselves as being Gold Certified Members of the Vehicle Protection Association when in fact they were not.
The lawsuit was filed by Senior Deputy Attorney General Sarah Frasch.
AVC with Car Solutions, LLC.
The Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Pittsburgh office filed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) to settle consumer complaints against Eugene P. Razzano, a licensed used car dealer, and his company, Car Solutions, LLC. Dealerships operating under that name are located in New Castle, Lawrence County, and Hermitage, Mercer County.
The AVC, filed in the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas, prohibits the dealership from making representations of a vehicle that is sold without warranties, if the statements conflict with a motor vehicle’s unwarranted status. The business formerly advertised vehicles as “certified” when in fact they were sold without any warranty. The practice has ended under the AVC.
The dealership paid $5,000 to resolve the matter. That sum included civil penalties and funds for future public protection. Restitution to consumers of $5,820 also was paid by the dealership during the course of the investigation. This case was handled by Deputy Attorney General Susan Ruffner.
“This is a reminder for consumers to take great care when purchasing an ‘as-is’ automobile,” Attorney General Kane said.
AVC involving York towing business
The Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Harrisburg office filed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) involving Matthew B. Oakes, who did business under Oakes Auto. Oakes Auto is a York County towing business, but Oakes also sold, advertised and offered for sale used motor vehicles without a license.
In the Commonwealth, it is unlawful for a person to be a motor vehicle salesperson without a license from the State Board of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers, and Salespersons. Oakes did not hold such a license but still sold or offered to sell vehicles on Craigslist.
Under the terms of the AVC, Oakes will pay a $1,000 civil penalty for failing to hold a vehicle salesperson license.
This AVC was filed in the York County Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Attorney General Nicole DiTomo.
Tips for consumers
Consumers who wish to file a complaint regarding their purchase of new or used motor vehicles are encouraged to call the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or go to www.attorneygeneral.gov.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind when considering purchasing a used car:
- Assess your needs. To get a good deal on a used car, hold it to the same standards as buying a new car, such as how long you will use the vehicle, how long you will keep it, the size and features you need, your budget for the purchase and operation and maintenance costs.
- Private owners. Private owners are not held to the same standards as licensed car dealers. They usually sell their cars through newspaper ads or online. You may find a well-maintained vehicle selling for less money than you would pay a dealer. If you buy from a private owner, ask for the maintenance and repair records. Also check the title to make sure the person selling the car is the legal owner.
- Complete a thorough check. You cannot expect perfection in a used car, but you shouldn’t overlook serious defects. Make safety a priority. Check the body for rust or cracks. Tires, battery, doors, windows, lights, tailpipe, shock absorbers and fluids are all details that need a close look before you buy. Mechanical parts such as the headlights, heater and windshield wipers should be functioning properly. Also check the interior seats and floor for any major wear and tear. Road test the car before you commit to buying. If you are not allowed to test drive the vehicle, don’t buy it.
- Read it before you sign it. As you finalize a deal on a used car, read and understand any written agreement. All blank spaces should be completed. If there is a warranty, learn exactly what it covers. If you are required to make a deposit, ask if it is refundable and make sure it is included in the contract.
- Avoid high-pressure sales. If you complete a purchase at a used-car dealer, the contract is often binding and does not provide a right to cancel provision. Walk away from any deal before signing a contract that you are not comfortable with. Remember to check that any promises made to you during the sales pitch are in writing.