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March 08, 2010
Mid-Columbia auto dealer shifts course following Attorney General’s accusations

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C. Speck Motors agrees to comply with fair business laws and resolve consumer complaints

OLYMPIA – A Mid-Columbia auto dealer agreed to take the high road following allegations of steering customers in the wrong direction with misleading sales and advertising practices.

C. Speck Motors, which operates used and new car dealerships in Sunnyside, Prosser and the Tri-Cities, reached an agreement today with the Washington Attorney General’s Office. The company pledged to resolve customer complaints about issues addressed by the settlement and to clear all future advertisements and promotions through its attorney.

“This agreement drives home the message that honorable business practices aren’t just a desired standard; they’re the law,” said Assistant Attorney General Mary Lobdell.

Lobdell said the state began investigating C. Speck in late 2007 after receiving complaints from customers. The allegations included:

  • Bushing,” during which a dealer imposes new loan terms after the original terms were agreed upon.
  • Failing to pay off trade-ins within two days.
  • Changing the terms of a verbal agreement when it came time to prepare the contract.
  • Misrepresenting the number of vehicles offered for sale at an advertised price.
  • Wording offers sent in the mail to create the impression that they originated from a government agency.
  • Conducting misleading prize promotions such as gas cards as promotions without clearly disclosing all terms of the offer.
  • Misrepresenting the optional nature of the documentary fee or failing to advertise the fee.

“When we brought the claims to C. Speck Motors’ attention, the owner promptly fired her general manager, developed a new sales policy and procedures manual and required all employees to attend training,” Lobdell said.

The agreement that will be filed in Thurston County Superior Court requires the company to work to resolve complaints from customers who purchased or leased vehicles and allege they experienced any of the problems addressed in the agreement. It also will reimburse customers who are able to show that they responded to a promotional offer for a gasoline voucher but never obtained the promised free fuel.

C. Speck Motors agreed to reimburse the Attorney General’s Office $30,000 for attorneys’ fees and legal costs.

The company owns Speck Chevrolet Buick and Speck Nissan in Sunnyside, Speck Hyundai in Pasco and Hall Chevrolet Buick in Prosser.


Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager – Seattle, (206) 464-6432

 

 

 

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