Why the FTC is sending $3.5 million to Sage Auto Group customers


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More than 40,000 customers duped by Sage Auto Group, an eight-rooftop group in Southern California, will share a settlement totaling more than $3.5 million.

The Federal Trade Commission will mail out 43,456 checks to customers who fell prey to the dealership group’s deceptive practices in 2014-16, the FTC said Thursday.

The money comes from a settlement order the FTC filed in March 2017 requiring Sage Auto Group to pay $3.6 million to settle charges for deceptive practices in sales, financing, advertising and online reviews.

Affected customers will receive $81.76 on average, the FTC said in a statement.

The FTC’s initial action, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in September 2016, involved nine dealerships — eight new-vehicle stores and one used-vehicle store — in the Los Angeles area.

Sage Auto Group was accused of using what are commonly called “yo-yo” financing tactics , defined by the FTC as using “deception or unlawful pressure to coerce consumers who have signed contracts and driven off the dealership lots into accepting a different deal,” according to its statement at the time. The Sage Auto Group case was the FTC’s first yo-yo financing action, the latest statement said.

Sage Auto Group was also accused of charging consumers for F&I products without their consent and making false claims that those products were required or free.

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