C.A.R.S. Activities 2014

CARS works with ABC's 20/20 to expose CarMax's shady
sales practices
CARS pitched the story about CarMax to top producers at ABC's 20/20, and worked closely with them on their undercover report. ABC's undercover investigation found vehicles that had sustained "major structural damage" and had multiple safety recalls pending, being offered for sale on CarMax's lot in Hartford, CT. Over and over again, CarMax keeps getting caught selling cars to consumers, without bothering to get the safety defects repaired first.

See for yourself how deceptive CarMax's practices are: ABC 20/20 investigative report: CarMax caught on camera
CARS helps persuade the California Supreme Court to review harmful,
anti-consumer appellate court decision in Stone v. Raceway Ford
CARS, represented pro bono by expert consumer advocate attorney Arthur Levy, helped persuade the California Supreme Court to review a particularly harmful, anti-consumer appellate court decision issued in Stone v. Raceway Ford. The decision issued by the appellate court would have allowed car dealers to get away with cheating consumers and overcharging them for various "garbage" fees that are tacked onto the price of buying a car. Those fees are either allowed or required by state law, including vehicle licensing fees, tire fees, and smog certification fees. They are typically not negotiated, but are presented to car buyers after the deal on the price of the car has been struck.

Ca. Supreme Court Justices in 2014
California Supreme Court agrees to grant review of harmful anti-consumer case,
Stone v. Raceway Ford
In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill (AB 1001), that would have raised the amount dealers were allowed to charge for "document fees" from $45 to $55. In his veto message, Gov. Schwarzenegger wrote: "This bill would increase the maximum document fee paid by car buyers from $45 to $55. Such fees are not usually discussed with the car buyer until the purchase price has been agreed upon and a disclosure is made on the conditional sales contract. I recently signed by Car Buyer Bill of Rights, and AB 1001 runs contrary to that bill's worthy goal to improve consumer protection. I do not believe that California consumers should be saddled with another hidden fee and therefore cannot support this measure."

However, the Appellate Court in Riverside County would have allowed car dealers to charge any amount they wished, as long as the dealer "disclosed" the amount of the fee on the retail installment contract. Even if the amount exceeded the maximum amount permitted to be charged, as established by state law. Even worse, the appellate court would have allowed dealers to charge consumers fees for "phantom" services the dealers didn't even provide.

As the letter CARS and other consumer groups filed with the California Supreme Court states, "The facts are undisputed. Raceway [Ford] charged buyers of diesel cars for performing smog checks and obtaining state-mandated smog certificates when the smog check and certification requirements applied only to gasoline, not diesel, cars."

CARS was joined in filing the letter by the Consumer Federation of California, CALPIRG, and Consumer Action. The California Supreme Court agreed to review the case. Good news for car buyers: the horrible appellate court decision is no longer in effect, and cannot be cited in other cases, pending review. CARS plans to urge the Court to overturn the decision and rule in favor of consumers and the longstanding rule of law.

Read letter CARS filed with the California Supreme Court:

CARS calls for national recall of defective Takata air bags
"Advocates call for national Takata air bag recall"
USA Today
October 23, 2014
by Chris Woodyard
"As the government issued urgent warnings about Takata air bags, safety activists and a couple of U.S. senators questioned whether millions of other drivers have been left in danger.

That's because the recalls and free repairs by 10 automakers for the potentially deadly air bags are regional, applying only to cars sold or registered in humid areas such as Florida and the Gulf Coast.

A safety activist also pointed out that where a car is registered and where it spends substantial amounts of time may be different. 'Cars move, people move and it doesn't make sense to assume the car will stay in the same place,' says Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety in Sacramento, Calif. 'We are a very mobile society. You have all these snowbirds that go to winter in Florida.'

Although most cars equipped with Takata air bags have been under recall for months or even years, the government's warning this week stemmed from tests that showed the passenger side air bag inflators were particularly prone to failure -- causing the bags to spew metal and plastic debris like shrapnel when they deploy -- in very humid climates."

Read more: USA Today: CARS exposes sales of unsafe, recalled used cars

CARS spearheads petition to Federal Trade Commission, seeking crackdown on CarMax over its sales of unsafe, recalled used cars

     Eleven major national consumer and safety non-profit organizations are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and take enforcement action against CarMax, the nation's largest retailer of used cars, over its sales of recalled used cars. In a petition filed at the FTC on Monday, the groups charge that:

     CarMax advertises on its website, on television, in newspapers, and at its dealerships that each of the used vehicles it offers for sale are “CarMax Quality Certified” and has undergone a rigorous, "125+ point inspection." However, CarMax fails to ensure that safety recalls are performed prior to selling used cars to consumers. As reported by the New York Times, "CarMax, the nation's largest seller of used cars, offers a "Certified Quality Inspection," which does not include fixing [safety] recalls."

     "Car dealers shouldn't sell used cars that have a safety recall to consumers, period. Far too many times we have seen the tragic and often fatal consequences when deficient cars are allowed on the road, and it's time for the FTC to do everything it can to put a stop to it," said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-New York).

     "CarMax is playing recalled used car roulette with its customers' lives," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), which spearheaded the petition.

Read more:  News reports, links to petition to FTC

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C.A.R.S. Mission
CARS is a national, award-winning,
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advocacy organization working to
save lives, prevent injuries, and
protect consumers from
auto-related fraud and abuse.

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Read more at American Prospect:
"What's Up With Twitter's Content Moderation Policies?"  

CarMax sells cars with
deadly safety recall defects.
ABC's 20/20 went undercover and caught
CarMax up to their sneaky tricks.
More than 730,000 viewers have watched this video clip on CARS' YouTube channel
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Buyer Beware! Auto dealers use
forced arbitration
to get away with cheating customers
Even when car dealers flagrantly violate consumer protection laws, you may not be able to get justice. That's because almost 100% of car dealers stick "forced arbitration" clauses into their contracts. If they cheat you, and you try to take them to court, they can just laugh at you. That's because they can get your case kicked into arbitration -- a secret, rigged process that favors big, corrupt lawbreakers. The dealer often gets to choose the arbitration firm, and even the arbitrator who hears your case. Unlike judges, arbitrators are perfectly free to ignore the law.

Dealers claim that arbitration is quick. But Jon Perz in San Diego had to wait over 8 years in "arbitration limbo" before he finally got justice, after Mossy Toyota sold him an unsafe car. CARS produced a short video exposing what happened. More than 1.3 million people have watched our video on YouTube:
See the billboard CARS displayed
right next to Mossy Toyota's car lot,
and read more about how Jon finally won.

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