Cites unlicensed salesperson and cars sold that were not roadworthy
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that his office has taken legal action against two Pennsylvania dealerships for allegedly violating consumer protection laws — Cars R Us Erie in Erie County and Martino Motors in Allegheny County.
“We’ve seen an increase in demand for used cars here in Pennsylvania,” said AG Shapiro. “And with that comes an increase in scammers. Scammers are shifting into high gear to try and take advantage of Pennsylvanians looking to buy a used car and it’s my job as the people’s lawyer to stop them.”
An American consumer purchasing a used car today is paying 42% more than they would have in 2019, according to Kelley Blue Book.
On January 27, 2022, in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) filed in the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General alleged that Cars R Us Erie and its principal owner Ryan Lariccia sold 173 cars without a licensed salesperson on staff. In addition, Cars R Us Erie misled consumers when it misrepresented extended service contracts to be warranties.
Under the terms of the AVC, Cars R Us Erie and Ryan Lariccia agreed to pay the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania $1,000 in civil penalties, as well as the costs in filing the AVC. In addition, Cars R Us Erie and Ryan Lariccia agreed to comply with Pennsylvania law, including the Consumer Protection Law, the Board of Vehicles Act, and the Automotive Industry Trade Practices. Cars R Us Erie and Ryan Lariccia agreed to not misrepresent extended service contracts, to clearly disclose a vehicle’s prior usage, and to utilize language in sales agreements that conform to the Auto Regs.
The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General also took separate legal action against Martino Motors and Donald J Martino, Jr. for alleged violations of an AVC that the parties previously entered into on August 27, 2014. The filing alleges that Mr. Martino and Martino Motors have continued to engage in conduct in violation of the AVC and Pennsylvania consumer protection laws, including, but not limited to, their continued sale of vehicles that are not “roadworthy.” The legal action alleges that one consumer, within two weeks of purchasing a car from Martino Motors, had the car’s brakes fail while she and her children were inside the car. The legal action further alleges that another consumer purchased a car and later discovered parts of the car were rusted, covered in duct tape, and painted to appear normal. The legal action seeks to permanently ban Mr. Martino and Martino Motors from selling motor vehicles in Pennsylvania, and seeks restitution, civil penalties, cost, and other equitable relief from them.
When purchasing a used car, use these tips to decrease your chances of being ripped off, and increase the probability of owning a reliable vehicle:
- Assess Your Needs: consider how long you will use the vehicle, how long you will keep the vehicle, what size and features you will need, and also determine your budget for the purchase, operation, and maintenance costs.
- Know Your Seller: whether you buy from a used car dealer, private owner, or an auto auction, check on the seller’s reputation and reliability first. In addition, ask for any available repair and maintenance records, and always check the title to make sure the person selling the car is the legal owner.
- Check the Car: while you shouldn’t expect perfection, make sure the car does not have any serious defects and make safety a top priority. Inspect the car in daylight and good weather. Check the body for rust or cracks. Inspect the tires, battery, doors, windows, heating and cooling, lights, exhaust, and fluids to make sure they are functioning properly. Have a trusted mechanic thoroughly inspect the care before you purchase it. Road test the care before you commit to buying. If you are not allowed to test drive the vehicle, don’t buy it.
- Read Before You Sign: take the time to read and understand any written agreement. Be sure to ask questions. Understand if there is a warranty and what it covers. If you are required to make a deposit, ask if it is refundable, and make sure the deposit is included in the contract.
Consumers who believe they may have been taken advantage of while in the process of purchasing a used car can file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection online at www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint.
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