Business Government Opinion

Consumer Diary: Manchester City Nissan Scams Unasked Car Buyers

Courtesy image

Consumer columnist and West Hartford resident Harlan Levy has more than 20 years of experience writing stories about everyday experiences that anyone could encounter.

Harlan Levy. Courtesy photo

By Harlan Levy

I was almost shocked to find this recent item about a widespread fraud allegedly perpetrated by an upstanding member of Manchester’s and the area’s car sales empire:

On Jan. 4, the Federal Trade Commission and the state of Connecticut announced that they were taking action against Manchester City Nissan, its owner, and key employees for systematically deceiving consumers about the price of certified used cars, add-ons, and government fees.

The complaint against the company, its top executives, and its managers alleges that in addition the dealership regularly charges customers junk fees for certification, add-on products, and government charges without the consumers’ consent, sometimes costing them thousands of dollars in unwanted and unauthorized charges. All these practices violate the state Unfair Trade Practices Act.

“This action follows on the heels of the commission’s announcement of the Combating Auto Retail Scams (CARS) Rule, and once again makes clear that bait-and-switch tactics and hidden junk fees have no role in honest dealmaking,” said FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine.

“These types of deceptive practices will not be tolerated,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.

The complaint charges that MCN advertises numerous cars, including Nissan vehicles, as being “certified pre-owned” and Nissan’s rules prohibit dealers from charging a fee for certification beyond the price of the car. However, the complaint alleges MSN regularly tacks on a certification charge.

Example: A consumer looking to buy a certified pre-owned car advertised for $15,700, but then the dealer added a $5,295.65 junk “inspection fee” for a car it had already inspected.

Also, MCN allegedly often charges consumers extra for an inspection or repair that’s already occurred but then fails to report to Nissan that the certified car was sold, leaving consumers without the additional warranty that was promised in MCN’s advertising.

The complaint also alleges that MCN and its employees frequently charge consumers for bogus add-ons they did not agree to pay – General Asset Protection, service contracts, maintenance contracts, and Total Loss Protection (TLP). TLP, in particular, appears in 90 percent of all sales by MCN.

One consumer negotiated a price of $20,500 for a Nissan Rogue Sport, but when she went to sign the sales contracts, her promised monthly payment had increased, because MCN had tacked more than $7,000 in add-ons to the amount she financed for the car.

MCN and its employees also regularly deceive consumers about government-imposed taxes and fees, claiming that junk fees added by MCN are required by the government or deceptively inflating the actual government fees to register the car and keeping the difference as profit.

An example: MCN told one consumer that Connecticut registration and other state fees were $345, although they’re $208.20.

NOTE: I asked the dealership for a comment and response to the FTC and state attorney general’s action but have not received a response as of process time

State law

Under Connecticut law at the time a deposit is taken, the dealer must disclose in writing whether the deposit is refundable or non refundable (pending loan acceptance). This information must be on the contract or purchase agreement, for a new or used vehicle.

Also, the state Used Car Warranty law covers mechanical and operational defects at the time of purchase, if the owner has met all of the following conditions:

  • The owner has paid at least $3,000 for the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is six years old or less.
  • The vehicle is used for personal purposes or family or household use.
  • The dealer must repair the vehicle at no charge up to 30 days (or 1,500 miles) after the purchase date if the owner paid at least $3,000, and up to 60 days (or 3,000 miles) after the purchase date if the owner paid at least $5,000.

Now you know.

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford! Click the blue button below to become a supporter of We-Ha.com and our efforts to continue producing quality journalism.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author


We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].

1 Comment

  • We recently bought a used 2016 Subaru Forester & put down a deposit which the salesperson told us was refundable but the paperwork indicated it was NOT refundable.

Leave a Comment

Translate »