A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement With Atlantic Auto Group Over Misleading Advertising And Sales Practices Across 22 Dealerships On Long Island
Promotional Materials Misled Consumers Into Believing They Won Prizes, Staff Deceived Customers Over Pricing
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced a settlement requiring 22 auto dealerships in Nassau and Suffolk Counties to pay $310,000 in restitution and penalties to resolve false advertising claims. The dealerships, all affiliated with Atlantic Automotive Group based in West Islip, persistently defrauded consumers with misleading promotions and fraudulent sales tactics. In total, the Attorney General’s Nassau and Suffolk Regional Offices received more than 250 complaints regarding the dealerships and their advertising and sales practices.
“Purchasing a car is one of the biggest financial decisions many families will make,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “New Yorkers have a right to navigate the car buying process without being targeted by false and misleading promotions and sales practices.”
Atlantic Automotive Group caused advertisements to be mailed to thousands of Nassau and Suffolk County consumers, with approximately 500,000 promotional items in total distributed by direct mail. The advertisements contained a scratch off game card, a pull tab game card, or a “Triple Diamond” game card where consumers could win a cash prize, a free vehicle, a flat-screen television or an Apple iPad. A winning ticket contained 3 like symbols but it did not explain what, if anything, the consumer won. Instead, consumers were instructed to bring the game card to the dealership during event times in order to claim their prize.
The game cards were deceptive and had the capacity to mislead consumers to believe that they were guaranteed winners of valuable prizes. In fact, virtually all of the consumers did not win a prize at all.
Atlantic Automotive Group also misled consumers through various other deceptive practices by:
- Publishing print advertisements which contained misleading or illegal features in violation of the Attorney General’s Auto Advertising Guidelines and a previous Assurance of Discontinuance entered into with 2 dealerships in the Atlantic Automotive Group;
- Obtaining signatures on contracts of sale and financing agreements from consumers who mistakenly believed that they were filling out paperwork for vehicles they had won as part of the “Triple Diamond”, “scratch-off game card”, or “pull tab game card” promotions;
- Offering false monetary discounts off the sales price of a vehicle, by selling the vehicle at a high retail sales price which had the effect of nullifying the value of the discount offered;
- Charging consumers for extended warranties, vehicle maintenance contracts, and administrative fees related to the purchase of vehicles that consumers did not want, had no knowledge of, or were told there was no charge for these products;
- Providing consumers with blank documents or partially blank documents for their signatures and later filling out the documents with figures and terms other than what was agreed upon by the consumers;
- Failing to give all necessary documents to consumers at the time of purchase;
- Making various false or misleading statements to consumers during high-pressure sales transactions;
- Encouraging consumers to apply for loans that they could not afford; and
- Refusing to refund deposits that had been made by consumers.
The dealerships included are:
- Millennium Honda, located at 286 N Franklin St, Hempstead, NY 11550;
- Millennium Toyota, located at 257 N Franklin St, Hempstead, NY 11550;
- Millennium Hyundai, located at 220 N Franklin St, Hempstead, NY 11550;
- Advantage Hyundai, located at 440 Plainview Rd, Hicksville, NY 11801;
- Advantage Toyota, located at 400 W Sunrise Hwy, Valley Stream, NY 11581;
- Advantage Honda, located at 1260 Northern Blvd, Manhasset, NY 11030;
- Atlantic Volkswagen, located at 555 Sunrise Hwy, West Islip, NY 11795;
- Atlantic Audi, located at 251 Sunrise Hwy, West Islip, NY 11795;
- Atlantic Nissan, located at 193 Sunrise Hwy North Service Rd, West Islip, NY 11795;
- Atlantic Hyundai, located at 193 Sunrise Hwy North Service Rd, West Islip, NY 11795;
- Atlantic Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, located at 130 Sunrise Hwy, West Islip, NY 11795;
- Atlantic Toyota, located at 200 Sunrise Hwy, Amityville, NY 11701;
- Atlantic Chevrolet Cadillac, located at 1350 Sunrise Hwy, Bay Shore, NY 11706;
- Atlantic Honda, located at 1391 Sunrise Hwy, Bay Shore, NY 11706;
- Lexus of Rockville Centre, located at 700 Sunrise Hwy, Rockville Centre, NY 11570;
- Lexus of Massapequa, located at 4950 Sunrise Hwy, Massapequa Park, NY 11762;
- Audi of Lynbrook, located at 843 Sunrise Hwy, Lynbrook, NY 11563;
- Huntington Chevrolet, located at 370 Oakwood Rd, Huntington Station, NY 11746;
- Huntington Toyota, located at 1030 East Jericho Turnpike, Huntington Station, NY 11746;
- Mid-Island Hyundai, located at 1815 Middle Country Rd, Centereach, NY 11720
- South Shore Hyundai, located at 360 W Sunrise Hwy, Valley Stream, NY 11581; and
- Massapequa Nissan, located at 3660 Sunrise Hwy, Seaford, NY 11783
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge Valerie Singleton, Assistant Attorney General Christina H. Bedell, and Investigator Paul Matthews of the Nassau Regional Office as well as Assistant Attorney General Rachael C. Anello and Paralegal Debra Siegler of the Suffolk Regional Office. The Nassau and Suffolk Regional Offices are a part of the Division of Regional Offices, led by Marty Mack, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices.