Representing Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), Consumer Federation of California, CALPIRG, and Consumer Action, Mr. Levy filed an Amicus Letter today in the California Supreme Court, arguing that the Court should hear the Raceway Ford Cases, where a car dealer charged buyers for smog inspections the dealer did not perform and state smog fees that were not required and the dealer never paid to the state.
Raceway Ford charged buyers of diesel cars for smog checks and state smog certificates, when the smog check and certification requirements did not apply to diesel cars. The lower appeal court recognized that Raceway never performed the smog checks it charged buyers for, that said smog checks were not legally required for the vehicles and that no smog fees were due nor did Raceway ever turn the smog fees it collected from the diesel buyers over to the state.
Still, the lower court ruled the dealer did not violate California consumer protection law, saying the buyers “were informed, in writing, how much they were being charged for smog related fees. They just did not act on that information by verifying that all of the listed charges were appropriate prior to signing.”
In today’s Amicus Letter, Mr. Levy asks the Supreme Court to review and reverse this decision.
By allowing dealers to insert bogus government fees and taxes in car purchase contracts, the lower court encourages dealers to bait-and-switch buyers by increasing car prices behind the buyers’ backs though “fine print” state fees and taxes, which the dealer just pockets as more profit. According to the Amicus Letter, the consumer protection law “protects the buyer by requiring the dealer to make separately known to the buyer every amount the dealer is charging for regulated charges, taxes, and fees, so the dealer does not undercut the sales price disclosure by collecting hidden, illegal, or excessive charges.”
The Supreme Court will decide shortly whether to hear the case. If it “grants review,” the case will be fully briefed to the seven justices of the California Supreme Court.
On December 17, the California Supreme Court granted Plaintiff's Petition for Review. No date has been set yet for when the Court will review the case but should they reverse the lower court's decision such a ruling would benefit California consumers by establishing precedent in the law making it clear that auto dealers cannot insert bogus charges to inflate prices at the expense of consumers, even if those charges are revealed at signing.
View the full letter HERE
To see the status of the case click HERE