SEATTLE - September 30, 1999 - Attorney General Christine Gregoire today announced Mazda Motor of America , Inc. will pay just over $5.2 million to Washington, 24 other states and the Federal Trade Commission for violating a 1996 consent decree which required the auto dealer to change the way it advertises auto leases.
"Mazda did make some changes, however, it continued to highlight low monthly payments while obscuring the total lease cost, "Gregoire said. "Using small size type and obscuring the cost amidst advertising clutter misleads consumers," she added.
Both the actions by the states and the FTC cover television ads placed by Mazda during a 13 month period after the 1996 consent decree was signed. That agreement required Mazda to clearly disclose certain key lease terms in its advertising such as up-front costs and the number, amount and timing of the scheduled payments. This action alleges that Mazda violated the court order by advertising certain terms but failing to make full disclosure.
Washington and the other states will receive $50,000 from Mazda. Mazda will pay $4.05 million as part of its settlement with the FTC.
Gregoire encourages consumers to do their homework and know what they are getting into before deciding if leasing a vehicle is right for them. Before signing a lease, make sure to:
- Consider all the costs of leasing. Most leases have mileage limits and impose substantial penalties for exceeding those limits. Other costs may include "acquisition fees" and lease-end "disposition fees."
- Step back and carefully evaluate a lease option, especially if you went into a dealership to purchase and were presented a lease option as a way to get you "into the car you want."
- Remember lease terms are negotiable. Dealers can and will offer lower monthly payments than they first quoted.
- Don’t sign a lease until you have done your homework and are sure it is right for you. Most leases include large penalties for ending the lease early.
For more information, see "Buying and Leasing Cars," or to file a complaint about auto leases or lease advertising.