Jan. 21, 2016 Staff Report
The Koeppel car dealerships, several of which are located on Northern Boulevard, have been slapped with a lawsuit by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for unlawfully selling credit repair and identity theft protection.
The dealerships include Koeppel Nissan (74-15 Northern Blvd.), Koeppel Volkswagen (57-15 Northern Blvd.), Koeppel Mazda (57-01 Northern Blvd.) and Koeppel Subaru (42-01 Northern Blvd.), among others.
Nearly 1,500 customers were unlawfully sold these “after-sale” products by Koeppel dealerships, according to Schneiderman. In some cases, consumers were charged more than $2,000.
The lawsuit claims that the Koeppel dealerships misled consumers by concealing the charges after indicating the services were free.
The dealerships, which are all owned by the Koeppel family, allegedly collected more than $1 million from consumers between January 2013 and November 2014 for credit repair or identity theft protection, according to the lawsuit.
Consumers did not receive the services, according to Schneiderman.
“When consumers shop for a car, they should not be misled by deceptive dealerships looking to make a quick buck off New Yorkers,” Schneiderman said.
“Unfortunately, some dealers pad their pockets with fees for products and services that unaware consumers don’t need, and don’t want.”
The Koeppel dealerships arranged with an independent company, Credit Forget It, Inc., to sell credit repair and identity theft protection services beginning in early 2013. It is a violation of state and federal law to charge upfront fees for services that promise to help consumers restore or improve their credit, according to Schneiderman.
The lawsuit further alleges that the Koeppel dealerships added on charges for other after-sale items like VIN etching and key replacement services, without clearly disclosing what they were charging for such services.
The dealership would often bundle these added costs into the vehicle sales price without separately itemizing them, inflating the total price, according to the suit.
In addition, the Koeppel complaint alleges that the dealerships sometimes negotiated purchase and lease terms with consumers in Spanish and then only provided contracts and documents in English. New York City law requires that when the terms of an installment agreement are negotiated in Spanish, the seller must provide documents translated into Spanish, Schneiderman stated.
The lawsuit has been filed in New York Supreme Court.
None of the dealerships could be reached for comment.