The July agreement also alleged the three Grieco stores violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, charging customers more for vehicles than the price advertised on their website, later adding addendum fees and describing vehicles available at “auction” or “wholesale” prices in February and March 2022. The Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles prohibits dealers from using the world “wholesale” and implying vehicles are being sold at a dealer’s cost. Grieco disagreed with allegations regarding the addendum fees.
The agreement prohibits the dealerships from charging customers for products or services without express informed consent. They also cannot advertise a vehicle price that varies from the price in its advertisements.
The three Grieco dealerships voluntarily agreed to implement many of these changes after Neronha filed suit in 2022, though they “believe they have consistently complied with the highest ethical business standards,” according to the July 26 assurance of voluntary compliance document. Grieco did not agree to allegations of wrongdoing and said an advertising company it hired was responsible for ensuring its ads met regulations.
Grieco dealerships said consumers who didn’t want to buy a basic Zurich Shield product could have the cost deducted from their purchase price and that in most cases, the cost was disclosed on a supplemental window sticker on each vehicle. They also said consumers did receive express informed consent for the product and that pricing adjustments were disclosed in added window stickers.
The three stores are part of Grieco Automotive Group, which has other stores selling Acura, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan and also has locations in California, Florida and Massachusetts. Mike Grieco Jr., CEO, was a 2013 Automotive News 40 under 40 honoree.
This agreement is part of Neronha’s work to protect retail automotive consumers from unfair and deceptive trade practices such as junk fees and unwanted add-on products, his office said. It said Neronha is working to stop dealerships from refusing to honor car prices listed on dealership websites and window stickers.
https://www.autonews.com/dealers/rhode-island-car-dealerships-pay-557000-deceptive-sales Rhode Island car dealerships to pay $557,000 for deceptive sales