ORLANDO, Fla., March 6 -- The office of the Florida Attorney General issued the following news release:
Attorney General Pam Bondi's office today announced a settlement with Gatorland Toyota, resolving allegations that former sales representatives engaged in high-pressure sales tactics and failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose the cost of products and services associated with the purchase or lease of an automobile. Gatorland cooperated with the investigation, which found that former sales representatives failed to follow company sales guidelines.
Consumer complaints, several of which were from senior citizens, alleged that while at the dealership getting repairs done, they were subjected to high pressure sales and not informed that the vehicle's service was complete. Consumers complained they felt pressured into buying an automobile and that the price they paid exceeded the price they agreed to pay. Consumers also complained they did not receive the appropriate trade-in value for their old vehicle.
"The purchase or lease of an automobile is a major financial obligation, and my office will enforce Florida's laws in order to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive dealership practices," stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. "Consumers deserve to have complete and accurate information so they can make informed decisions when purchasing a vehicle."
Examples of other illegal high pressure sales tactics include:
# Holding keys - Salespeople will sometimes ask for the keys to your car "in order to evaluate it for trade-in purposes." This is a reasonable request, but you should insist that your keys be returned to you after the test drive. It is an unfair sales practice for a salesperson to keep your keys while using high pressure sales tactics to get you to buy.
# Cash deposits - If a salesperson asks for a cash deposit to show "that you are serious about buying," you are under no obligation to provide such a deposit. It is an unfair practice for a salesperson to take a cash deposit and then refuse to return it if you do not sign a contract.
The following is additional helpful information for consumers seeking to purchase a vehicle:
# Statements that do not bind you - If you are asked to sign a statement to the effect that you "agree to buy a car when terms can be agreed upon," you are not legally bound by such a statement.
# Multiple Worksheets -Some salespeople use forms called "worksheets" to negotiate terms with you. A worksheet is non-binding. If you reach an agreement, you must check to see that the terms on the worksheet appear accurately on the final contract terms.
# Blank Contracts -Do not sign a document until it is completed fully to your satisfaction. Be willing to walk away if your terms are not met.
# Payment Packing or Loading. Be careful of payment "packing" or "loading," which occurs when financing through the dealer. Consumers may be persuaded to buy additional products, such as credit insurance, service contracts, and the true impact of the monthly payments may not be clearly revealed. Never focus on the monthly payment, instead focus on the price, interest rate and trade-in value.
Consumers who may be aware of unfair and deceptive business practices should contact the Attorney General's Office by calling the fraud hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.
To view the agreement, follow this link: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JMEE-9GXQN4/$file/GatorlandToyota.pdf
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