On December 6, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it is mailing 43,456 checks totaling more than $3.5 million to consumers subjected to deceptive and unfair sales and financing tactics by the Sage Auto Group and its owners between 2014 and 2016. Affected consumers will receive their checks soon, with the average refund amount totaling $81.76.
In September 2016, the FTC charged nine Los Angeles-area auto dealerships and their owners with using a wide range of deceptive and unfair sales and financing practices. The FTC’s action, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, sought to end these practices and return money to consumers.
The action against the Sage Auto Group defendants was, according to the FTC, the FTC’s first to charge an auto dealer for “yo-yo” financing tactics: using deception or other unlawful pressure tactics to coerce consumers who have signed contracts into later accepting a different deal. The FTC also alleges that the defendants packed extra, unauthorized charges for “add-ons,” or aftermarket products and services, into car deals financed by consumers. In addition to barring the allegedly illegal conduct, the March 2017 order settling the FTC’s charges required the defendants to pay approximately $3.6 million for return to affected consumers.
Recipients, according to the FTC, should deposit or cash checks within 60 days, as indicated on the check. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check. Impacted consumers will receive a percentage of their total add-on costs for vehicles they bought.