DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ PUTS USED CAR DEALER QUEENS AUTO MALL ON NOTICE FOR ILLEGAL AND DECEPTIVE BUSINESS PRACTICES
DCA Seeks License Revocation and Nearly $700,000 in Consumer Restitution and Fines
Commissioner Mintz Issues Tips to Car Buyers to Protect Their Money and Credit History
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today
announced aggressive legal action against used car dealer Queens Auto Mall, Inc.
(134-01 Atlantic Ave, Richmond Hill, NY 11418), citing the business for charging
consumers illegal fees, refusing to refund deposits on cancelled transactions,
prohibiting consumers from filing complaints as a condition of issuing refunds
and guaranteeing financing for all customers in its advertisements. DCA also
charged the used car dealer with deceptively implying that its auto auction
business, Queens Auto Mall Auction House – also known as Federal Auctioneers,
Federal Auto Auction and New York State Auction – is affiliated with the federal
and state government.
“A license to sell used cars is not a license to
cheat New Yorkers looking for a fair deal,” said Consumer Affairs Commissioner
Jonathan Mintz. “The extensive pattern of fraud we’ve seen at Queens Auto Mall
is outrageous and this Department is moving to shut them down – period.”
DCA seeks to revoke both the used car license and
auction license of the owners of Queens Auto Mall and Queens Auto Mall Auction
House, as well as to bar permanently its owners from obtaining any DCA license
in the future. Since 2000, the Department has received 100 consumer complaints
about Queens Auto Mall, including complaints about refund refusals and failure
to deliver vehicles after consumers put down $500 deposits. Most critically, DCA
will seek restitution for every consumer who was illegally charged an auction
fee and a processing fee, ranging from $99 to $449, and will also seek maximum
fines, estimated at nearly $700,000.
In February 1999, DCA cited Queens Auto Mall for
similar violations. The used car dealer signed a settlement agreement with the
Department in 2000, agreeing to refund $25,000 to consumers, pay $5,000 in fines
and comply fully with the law. DCA’s most recent charges reveal Queens Auto Mall
has persistently violated both the law and that settlement agreement.
Last year, DCA received more than 700 complaints
about used car purchases – one of the Department’s top five complaint
categories. Most complaints report “bait-and-switch” offers which lure potential
customers into the dealership, unclear contract terms and high pressure sales
tactics. Other obstacles for consumers include language barriers, or contracts
negotiated in another language but written in English, causing confusion of
terms and conditions. In the past year, DCA reclaimed more than $800,000 in
restitution for consumers who filed complaints about used car dealers.
DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law and other
related business laws throughout New York City. Ensuring a fair and vibrant
marketplace for consumers and businesses, DCA licenses more than 71,000
businesses in 57 different industries. Through targeted outreach, partnerships
with community and trade organizations, and informational materials, DCA
educates consumers and businesses alike about their rights and responsibilities.
DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment is the first municipal office of its kind
in the nation with a mission to educate, empower and protect New Yorkers with
low incomes, to help them make the best use of their financial resources to move
forward economically. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online
Shopping for a car? Follow
If buying a used car, first check if the
dealership is licensed by DCA.
Get a copy of your credit report before
you start shopping around. Correct any errors, or work on
improving your credit score before you apply for a car loan so that you get
the best deal. Go online to www.annualcreditreport.com for a
free copy of your credit report.
Get pre-approved for a loan BEFORE going
shopping. The terms and eligibility requirements for financing can
be complicated. If you are going to finance your car purchase, knowing
interest rates before you shop will help you compare rates and find the terms
that work best for you. If you secure a car loan through your bank or credit
union, you will be dealing with an institution with which you have a prior
relationship should anything go wrong.
Never sign a blank or incomplete
agreement/contract if you don't understand the terms; always retain all copies
of any contract or paperwork signed.
If a car sale is negotiated in a language
other than English, the contract must also be written in that
Don't negotiate a purchase based on a
monthly payment. Your goal is to negotiate the best price for the
car at the lowest interest rate and for the fewest number of payments. Pay
close attention to the terms; negotiate the total cost of the car, the
interest rate and the total amount that you are financing. Then estimate the
monthly payment amount.
Say no to "add-ons" and
options. Most add-ons or options like paint and fabric protection,
rust-proofing, extra security systems, extended warranties, etc. are cheaper
when bought separately. Ask for a calculation of your monthly payments with
and without the add-ons and options.