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Car Dealer Pays $600,000+ to Settle 16 Cases, 5 Complaints

The headline reads "Auto Dealer Target of Lawsuits"
Then "Jeff Schmitt Auto Group Pays $625,000 to Settle 16 Lawsuits, 5 Complaints"

Burdge Law Office has been fighting car sales fraud in Kentucky and Ohio for more than 25 years and the Dayton Daily News and Middletown Journal newspapers reported on August 6th some of the settlement successes we achieved recently against one car dealership organization in the Dayton, Ohio area. And the consumer complaints about the Jeff Schmitt car dealership group haven't stopped coming into the office.

Jeff Schmitt Auto Group facing numerous lawsuits

Since last year consumers have filed at least 23 cases in local courts against Jeff Schmitt car dealerships and some of their employees, all involving allegations of unfair and deceptive sales practices. And as this blog is being typed, there are more complaints being received and cases to be filed. Five other cases were settled outside of the court process and at least 9 cases are still going on in Dayton area courthouses, with more likely to be filed in the near future.

The lawsuits allege a "systematic and organized pattern" of deceptive practices that have cost consumers thousands of extra dollars in each sale.

Allegations include the use of a "5 finger close" where the finance salesperson holds their hand on the paperwork while getting the customer's signature on a contract that includes extra charges they were not aware of, charging $1,249 or more for rust-proofing that is not even on the vehicle being sold, charging exorbitant prices for window "theft deterrent" etching that the lawsuits allege is nearly worthless, among other things.

The extra charges alleged to be "packed" into customer transactions, without customer knowledge of the extra cost and sometimes not even knowing what the service even is, included "Personal Assistant" charges, Gap insurance, extended warranties, "dent" repair services, "security coding" and "key" replacement programs. The tactic is widely called "payment packing" in the car sales industry and has been admitted to be deceptive.

A month ago, the Jeff Schmitt dealerships general manager, Steve VanGorder, was quoted in an Automotive News article, "If somebody's numbers have fallen in finance, they know there is a talent pool of aggressive salespeople who want their job." And, the article goes on, if the numbers fall the finance salesman can find himself back on the floor doing ordinary sales work.

The consumer lawsuits involve both new and used vehicle sales and leases. The papers filed in Courts also detail allegations of multiple specific instances of customers being charged for non-existent rust proofing and third party lenders (like credit unions and banks) being told by the dealer that vehicles had non-existent but valuable optional equipment in order to get higher loan values. Some instances of third party lenders being told customers earnings were higher than reality or housing costs being underreported also are alleged to have taken place in order to get higher loan approvals from the lenders.

With cases still pending in Miami Valley local courts, the Burdge Law Office reports that new consumers seem to be discovering what happened to them at the Schmitt car dealerships and calling for help at least once very few days.

"I haven’t seen this many complaints about a single car dealer group like this in at least 25 years of handling car sales fraud cases,” Burdge said.

If you were ripped off by a car dealer or treated unfairly or with deception, call Burdge Law Office on their Toll Free Car Sales Fraud Hotline, 1.888.331.6422 or email them for free help getting back your money and getting justice.

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