For more than 30 years, The Law Office Of Richard A. Vrhovc has protected the rights of citizens all over the country by using New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, NJSA 56:8-2, et seq., which is one of the most favorable consumer protection laws in the USA. The CFA was enacted to punish dishonest businesses. While many cases settle before trial, Attorney Vrhovc has taken many cases to trial where the targets do not want to settle. The CFA provides that any business which is found to have violated the Act must pay triple damages and attorney’s fees and costs.
In 2017 Mr. Vrhovc obtained the #1 jury verdict in New Jersey for breach of contract. The jury awarded the client $3,766,416.99. The defendant was also found to have defrauded the client and Mr. Vrhovc’s client obtained a Judgment for that same amount.
Additionally, used car dealers are just one of the types of businesses our office pursues on behalf of customers who bought or leased a car in New York or New Jersey. These dealers have many ways of victimizing customers. Some of the ways customers are defrauded by used car dealers are:
- 1. “Bait and switch” schemes. This is where the dealer advertises the car for a low price simply to lure the customer onto the lot. Once the customer decides on the car, the dealer may try to increase the price on the grounds that the advertised price did not include the down payment or a so-called “Certification” fee. They may also claim that the car needed to have “required” warranties or that the advertised price is just the “wholesale price.”
- 2. “Aftermarket warranties.” Some dealers add so-called warranties or service contracts to the deal for thousands of dollars extra without even telling the customer about them. The dealer is required to provide copies of all of the documents to the customer, but some do not. Sometimes the unsuspecting customer doesn’t even know he was scammed until he gets the bill from the bank he financed with. Other times, the dealer will tell the customer that the warranties are required to get financing, when they are not required at all.
- 3. “Guarantees.” Some dealers will offer the customer a “guarantee” for a set period of time, perhaps 30 or 60 days. When the car needs repairs the dealer may delay returning it to the customer in the hopes that the warranty will expire before the customer can bring the car back again.
- 4. “Terms and Conditions” may exist on a dealer’s website which hide extra fees, sometimes referred to as “Vehicle Certification” fees. If the customer questions the extra charges, some dealers will defend their dishonest conduct by pointing to the fine print on their website.
- 5. “Fake down payments.” Some dealers will put the wrong down payment amount on the contract to make the deal more attractive to the bank or finance company. The larger the down payment, the more likely the bank will agree to make the loan. Customers should take care to make sure the contract has the true down payment listed, because if not that is a warning sign about the type of dealer you are doing business with.
All of the above circumstances are violations of the Consumer Fraud Act. Some of our recent cases included the following:
- 1. A client from Pennsylvania traveled to New Jersey to buy a used Mazda based upon the dealer’s representation that there was “no rust” on the vehicle. Upon returning home, the car failed inspection due to the massive amount of rust on the undercarriage. Attorney Vrhovc took the case to trial and won at trial, which netted the client 3 times his damages, plus costs and attorney’s fees. When the dealer did not pay voluntarily, we got the Sheriff to freeze their bank account and we collected the money for our client.
- 2. A client from Virginia who wanted to make a living by making deliveries for Amazon bought a used International truck from Carr Automotive in Delran, NJ. The deal came with a 30 day/1,000 mile warranty on the engine and transmission from Carr Automotive. The truck never operated properly and failed a DOT inspection, and the client never even made one single delivery with the truck. Carr Automotive repeatedly failed to repair the truck as required. Carr also refused to put the client in another truck or to rewind the deal. Attorney Vrhovc forced the dealer into arbitration where the arbitrator found that Carr Automotive LLC violated the Consumer Fraud Act and our client was awarded triple damages, attorney’s fees and costs totaling $77,612.44.
- 3. A New Jersey client “bought” a used car from a dealership in New York, financing most of the purchase price. But the dealership never sent her the title or license plates and then went out of business. This left the client with a car she could not use. Attorney Vrhovc contacted the finance company, which agreed to rewind the deal without even having to file a lawsuit. The client’s credit will not be affected.
- 4. Another client bought a used car for what he was told was the ‘advertised price,’ signing numerous documents in the process but not reading them. When he was leaving, the salesperson handed him a stack of papers which he looked at when he got home. Only then did he realize that he was charged thousands of dollars more than what he was told. Attorney Vrhovc filed suit and the case was settled for an amount far in excess of the extra cost the dealer tacked onto the loan.
- 5. One client traded in her Mercedes Benz for a Range Rover, and the dealer promised to pay off the loan on the Mercedes. But they never paid off the first loan, and that left the client with 2 loans instead of one! With the dealer and its personnel having disappeared, Attorney Vrhovc successfully sued the finance company, which erased the loan on the Mercedes and paid the client and the attorney.