There’s a blazon of acclimated car dealership in New Jersey that the Accompaniment Commission of Investigations three years ago said were “gaming the system.” And it’s aloof issued a aftereffect to that affliction report, award “unscrupulous activity,” and “downright dangerous” rip-offs occurring at some used-car dealerships beyond the state. The SCI’s Director of Communications Kathy Riley afresh sat bottomward with Michael Hill.
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Hill: Kathy Riley, acceptable to the broadcast. You’re with the Accompaniment Commission of Investigation. What did you acquisition about the acclimated car industry and about, as some bodies alarm them, “junker” cars?
Riley: Yeah, we looked at a alcove aural the acclimated car industry that has become, essentially, a anchorage for adulterous banker activity. In some cases, action that harms consumers. We begin that these complexes are a ambush for these dealers. And we’re talking — they’re called, multi-dealer locations, and what they are is ample buildings, typically, that can abode up to, some times, hundreds of dealers.
Hill: On paper, though? Not physically in the building.
Riley: Well, they absolutely accept offices, and there are cubicles, and they accept a board and a landline. But that’s the dealership — that’s it. For all intents and purposes, this is not a dealership that any affectionate of business is action on there, but that’s their accountant location. And what we begin is that there’s all kinds of inappropriate action occurring by these dealerships. And we’re talking things like tax fraud; we’re talking customer fraud, specifically.
Hill: There’s absolute violations of the law?
Riley: In some cases we begin some actionable activity, including allowance artifice and things like this. But the affair that was the best acute affair was the customer fraud. We begin examples of association who absolutely spent bags of dollars for cartage that were absolutely annihilation added than junk.
Hill: And they begin that out already they bought them because they fell to pieces.
Riley: Absolutely. We had one adventure of a being who collection off the lot, and as anon as they collection off the lot, the car started authoritative noises. Aural a week, the agent fell out on Rt. I-95.
Hill: What affectionate of recourse do those consumers have?
Riley: Well, that’s one of the problems here. They don’t accept a lot of recourse. Best of the sales that action at these places are as-is sales. Beneath New Jersey law, that agency any defects or problems are the buyer’s responsibility. So, the buyers absolutely accept no recourse.
Hill: But, Kathy, aren’t the dealers appropriate to acquaint the buyers — abeyant buyers — what the accord is with the car, in agreement of what’s amiss with it?
Riley: Well, beneath as-is sales, it’s absolutely — “Hey, this is an as-is sale, and that’s it.” New Jersey protections alone administer to cartage that amount added money than that, and these abatement beneath that.
Hill: So back consumers go to addition and they say, “Look, the council caster bound up,” or some added above affair with this, they about accept no recourse? Do they accept a adamantine time award these dealers?
Riley: Well, these dealers are not so adamantine to acquisition because generally they’re — rather, I’m sorry. They’re adamantine to acquisition because they’re not at their offices. They don’t operate, really, out of these offices. Back you would go do a acceptable dealership, and you could go acknowledgment to the dealer, there is no one to acknowledgment to.
Hill: So what recourse is there, then, for a consumer?
Riley: Not a lot, at the moment. And that was one of the things that we’re recommending. We’re advising that New Jersey advance it’s customer aegis laws, so that buyers who are accountable to these blazon of sales may accept some blazon of recourse. We looked at — the accompaniment of Massachusetts has a appealing acceptable law, that has protections that are abundant added all-embracing than New Jersey’s law.
Hill: One of the things I’m award actuality — your recommendations, “Enact stronger protections for consumers. Crave in-state analysis of rebuilt deliver titles. Enforce abuse-of-license violations. Create a broad license.” Who’s accomplishing this? The acumen I ask is because this is your aftereffect report. You did this in 2015.
Riley: Yes, and that’s an important affair to mention. This is a aftereffect investigation. We initially looked into these multi-dealer complexes in 2015. And what we begin this time about is a lot of the aforementioned things continue. One of the affidavit we got into this was that there’s additionally legislation pending. As a absolute aftereffect of our aboriginal investigation, the Motor Vehicle Commission did apparatus some reforms, some of which were absolutely helpful. But the botheration with this awaiting legislation is it would disengage a lot of those reforms, so we were absolutely anxious that this legislation could move advanced and disengage some of the acceptable things that accept been done. We additionally heard allegations that some of this illicit-type action by dealers was continuing.
Hill: Who’s attention consumers in this process?
Riley: Well, beneath the law, the Motor Vehicle Commission absolutely doesn’t accept a accomplished lot of — has no albatross for consumers. They’re artlessly attractive at the banker — the adjustment of the dealers. It’s the Division of Customer Affairs that deals with customer protections. And as we declared earlier, we anticipate that the law maybe should be broadcast so that bodies who buy cartage that amount beneath than $1,000, accept added than 100,000 afar accept a little bit added wiggle-room in accepting advice for these affectionate of sales gone wrong.
Hill: And the bill in the Legislature, area is that action appropriate now? What affectionate of protections? What can bodies achievement for, in agreement of the Legislature, with some of this?
Riley: Well, the bill that I accredit to is artlessly accompanying to regulations administering the multi-dealer locations. So that’s ambidextrous with one affair — that’s the conduct of the dealers and the operation of these entities. We’re talking actuality in our recommendations about accretion the customer aegis laws, and that would be article that would accept to be new legislation, aloof to aggrandize our accepted banned on that.
Hill: And is there abutment for the affectionate of legislation you’re talking about?
Riley: Well we aloof put our address out this week, so we’re acquisitive addition from the Legislature reads this address and thinks that’s a acceptable abstraction and decides to sponsor legislation.
Hill: It should be crave reading, perhaps, over Thanksgiving holiday?
Riley: Sounds good.
Hill: Alright, Kathy Riley, there with the Accompaniment Commission of Investigation. Thank you, Kathy.
Riley: Thank you.
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