FTC Fines Dealership Group $1.1 Million
In a move aimed at protecting consumers and ensuring fairness in the auto industry, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the State of Wisconsin have launched legal proceedings against a prominent Wisconsin auto dealer group. The case, filed on October 24, 2023, has shed light on deceptive practices that have allegedly affected countless car buyers. Rhinelander Auto Center, its owners, and General Manager Daniel Towne stand accused of deceiving customers by adding illegal fees to car prices and discriminating against American Indian customers through higher financing costs and fees.
Understanding the Case
The dealership, along with its various aliases, has come under scrutiny. The case alleges that the defendants engaged in dishonest practices, tacking on unjustifiable fees to vehicle prices. Moreover, they were accused of discriminatory practices, specifically targeting American Indian customers with higher financing costs and fees.
FTC Takes a Stand
The FTC and the State of Wisconsin are resolute in their pursuit of justice for affected consumers. The case, though pending, signifies a pivotal moment in the battle against deceptive practices within the auto industry. In response to these allegations, the FTC stated, “We are committed to protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices. No one should be subjected to discriminatory treatment or be misled when making significant financial decisions.”
To rectify the situation, the defendants have agreed to proposed court orders. These orders will compel the dealership's current owners and General Manager to halt their unlawful practices immediately. Additionally, the defendants have committed to providing $1.1 million, earmarked for refunds to affected consumers. This step demonstrates the FTC's dedication to ensuring that those who have suffered financial harm receive the restitution they deserve.
This case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of consumer awareness and vigilance when making significant purchases, such as buying a car. Car buyers must be diligent in understanding the components of the final price, ensuring they are not subject to illegal fees or discriminatory practices. The recent actions taken by the FTC and the State of Wisconsin against this dealership underscore a vital lesson for all businesses in the automobile industry: deceptive practices and discrimination will be met with strict scrutiny now and moving forward.