Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Arizona consumers will receive $405,000 in restitution stemming from a settlement with Valley-based auto dealers ABC Nissan and Pinnacle Nissan, both owned by Berkshire Hathaway Automotive.
“Arizonans shopping for a vehicle deserve an honest and transparent car buying experience,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “While the market may be experiencing fluctuations, dealerships should avoid advertising prices that they are not prepared to honor.”
The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) alleges that both ABC and Pinnacle Nissan engaged in false advertising when they advertised low vehicle prices online but refused to sell those vehicles for the advertised prices. The AGO alleges that ABC and Pinnacle Nissan would tell consumers they had to purchase certain “add-on” accessories, such as nitrogen in the tires, an exterior protective coating, door edge guards, door cups, or window tint. These add-on accessories raised the price of the vehicle above the advertised sales price. ABC and Pinnacle Nissan deny the allegations.
The judgment with ABC Nissan, pending court approval, is a result of the AGO’s enforcement of a previous consent decree between the AGO and ABC Nissan, where ABC Nissan paid $130,000 in restitution for similar conduct and agreed to include the price of all mandatory add-on accessories in the advertised prices. Under this enforcement action, pending court approval, ABC Nissan now will pay another $100,000 in restitution to Arizona consumers, $25,000 in civil penalties, and $25,000 in costs and attorney’s fees.
Under the judgment with Pinnacle Nissan, which is pending court approval, Pinnacle will pay $305,000 in restitution to Arizona consumers and $50,000 in civil penalties. The two auto dealers will pay more than $500,000 in restitution, penalties, and fees.
The judgments also require strong injunctive relief requiring the two dealerships to advertise the true price of their vehicles, give consumers accurate information regarding costs, and provide transparency regarding add-on accessories. The judgments also require ABC and Pinnacle Nissan to remove customers who have asked not to receive sales calls from their call lists and to advise prospective buyers truthfully about the availability of specific vehicles.
Am I Eligible for Restitution? What Should I Do?
Any consumers who believe they have been harmed by ABC Nissan or Pinnacle Nissan’s conduct should file a complaint here by July 31, 2022, to be considered for restitution.
If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s website. If you need a complaint form sent to you, you may contact the AGO in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431.
Copy of the proposed First Addendum to the Consent Decree with ABC Nissan here.