Nissan and Kia dealers accused of bait and switch schemes in Washington state

Nissan cars on a lotThe Performance Nissan and Kia dealerships in Washington state are accused of a bait and switch scheme -- charging consumers higher prices for automobiles as a result of misleading sales and advertising prices.

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna is suing two Everett, Wash., dealerships in Snohomish County Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges Performance Jeep-Eagle, which does business as Performance Nissan and Performance Kia, advertised lower prices that what consumers could actually pay between 2006 and 2009.
In addition to allegations that the dealerships sold cars for thousands of dollars higher than the advertised amounts, they were accused of:
  • advertising previously sold vehicles,
  • altering contract terms after negotiating a verbal or informal sales or lease agreement without contacting the customer about the changes,
  • not explaining contract terms to Spanish-speaking customers with a translation of documents or an oral translation,
  • and using deceptive promotions, including a fake mailer that read "Urgent Recall-Official Notice" that appeared to be from a government agency.

Performance Auto Group attorney Rick Ockerman told Consumer Ally that the allegations are old and inaccurate.

"The thing that's disturbing to us is that these allegations are three, four and five years old," Ockerman said in a telephone interview. "Most of them we've already provided documentary objects showing this is not correct."

Ockerman said he and his client, Performance Auto Group, have worked with the Attorney General's office for the past three years. The advertising complaint is not valid, he added.

"That's why we have courts of law, so we can lay out everything in court," he said. "I'm sure my client will be exonerated."

Ockerman blamed the local newspaper for not responding to a request to change the ad. The advertising director for the Everett Herald could not be reached for comment.

The state is requesting a court order to end the alleged sales tactics as well as civil penalties and restitution for consumers.
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