This is the fourth of nine articles in our Blog Series Is Leasing Really Fleecing?
When the clock ran out on the Connecticut General Assembly's 2015 legislative session on June 3, many high-priority bills had not received final votes. A special session was called to consider revising the state budget and to address other issues. The legislature approved, and Governor Malloy signed, a massive "Implementer Bill" on June 30, 2015. The new law includes provisions that will dramatically change the way that car dealers charge consumers for dealer conveyance fees.
Do car dealer employees commit forgery? "It is like smoking a cigarette," said one employee of a major Connecticut car dealership. This individual, a salesman who was upset with his employer, had agreed to talk with me about dealership practices. He confirmed what we have long suspected: car dealership employees sign customers names to documents all the time.
Industry insiders know that some auto dealerships regularly engage in criminal activity. For example, one employee of a large Connecticut dealership recently confirmed to me that dealership employees routinely forge signatures; he said that forging a signature was "like smoking a cigarette," something done many times a day.
When we evaluate a potential client's contract documents, we always check to see whether the contract accurately shows the amount paid as a down payment. A few weeks ago, we discussed the problem of some car dealerships not crediting the full down payment to a vehicle purchase. . A very different problem - and one that we saw far more frequently - is when a contract shows a higher down payment than the amount that the consumer paid. For example, a consumer may give a dealership $1,000 down, but the contract may show that the consumer paid $3,000. Sometimes, the dealership is quite open about this. We have even seen dealerships advertise that they will give consumers more "credit" for the down payment than the amount that they actually pay. Other times, the consumer has no idea that the down payment was inflated.