Military Seeks Protections Against
Auto Dealer Ripoffs

U.S. Secretary of the Army McHugh:

"Many of our Soldiers have fallen victim to predatory lending practices and...unscrupulous car dealerships and lenders." Read more...

U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Donley:

"...greater Government oversight of automobile financing and sales for our Airmen will help protect them and reduce unnecessary financial strain on our already overburdened Air Force families." Read more...

U.S. Department of Defense urges Congress to help protect troops

"The Department of Defense would welcome and encourage [Consumer Financial Protection Agency] CFPA protections provided to Service members and their families with regard to unscrupulous automobile sales and financing practices, provided such protections would not limit access to legitimate products. Read more...

Department of Defense Data Call summary: based on responses from 841 officers who provide financial counseling to all 4 branches of the United States Armed Forces. Read summary...

Star-spangled rip-off
Why car buyers in the military are vulnerable to bad deals report, posted Jan. 5, 2012

" ... some car salesmen who actively solicit military members and loudly praise their service nevertheless target them for rip-offs, frauds and overcharges." Read article...

Follow the Money
Recently Congress granted auto dealers a special exemption from being regulated by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This, despite the fact auto lending is a $850 billion business, and auto dealers are the #1 source of consumer complaints to the Better Business Bureau and state and local consumer protection agencies.

Surprise -- campaign cash played a central role in the dealers' win against consumers, including the military.

In the past two decades, auto dealers have lavished more than $25 million in campaign contributions on Congressional candidates, with 75% going to Republicans. They have repeatedly reaped rewards in return, at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. Last year, Congress gave auto dealers more than $3,000,000 in taxpayer dollars, through the "Cash for Clunkers" program -- with no strings attached to protect car buyers from predatory dealership lending. Auto dealers have also benefited from TARP and TALF and other bailout funds.

The biggest beneficiary of auto dealer campaign cash: U.S. Sen. John McCain. He has accepted more than $717,000 from auto dealers. Despite his military background, Sen. McCain turned a deaf ear to the military community, and voted to exempt auto dealers. Ironically, Arizona has some of the most high-profile cases involving auto dealers preying on troops.

Read more: auto dealers ripping off military Servicemembers

Read more: auto dealers' campaign contributions

An End to Shady Dealers
New York Times, May 11, 2010

Even the Pentagon has weighed in, insisting that automobile purchases and dealer-assisted financing should be part of any new financial legislation because low-income military people are victimized in large numbers by shady car dealers that set up shop just outside many bases. Officials say distractions caused by these bad auto deals could affect the readiness of the armed forces. Read more...

The Pentagon versus the Auto Dealers
Huffington Post, May 12, 2010

President Obama yesterday spoke out against a "special loophole" sought by the country's auto dealers... Dealers engage in "powerbooking" and "yo-yo financing...." Read more...

The Military Coalition urges the U.S. Senate to stand up for our troops against unscrupulous auto dealers

The Military Coalition is comprised of 31 nationally respected military advocacy organizations representing more than 5.5 million active duty military Servicemembers, veterans, their families and survivors. Read more...

Auto Dealers, Pentagon square off;
Increased oversight of loans fought

Detroit Free Press, April 25, 2010

" amendment by Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback to exempt car dealers from Dodd's bill 'will allow unscrupulous dealers to continue to take advantage of service members and their families.' 'We can't have lenders continuing to prey on our military families,' said Katie Savant, deputy director of government relations at the National Military Family Association." Read more...

New Front in Battle over Financial Regulation
Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2010

"...among the lobbyists crowding Congress are representatives of U.S. military personnel, who are in a pitched battle with America's car dealers....U..S. car dealers want to be excluded from new financial regulations...A coalition of more than 30 military organizations is urging lawmakers to resist the exclusion of the auto dealers, arguing that soldiers are being targeted by predatory lenders. The coalition says it is a problem affecting military readiness." Read more...

Cpl. William Woods on duty in Iraq
~ Cpl. William Woods on duty in Iraq
Marine Corporal William Woods served two tours of duty in Iraq as a mortarman. He is also fluent in Arabic, and served as a translator between his command and Iraqi officials.

Congress may improve protections for military members from shady auto dealers.

Huffington Post, March 14, 2010 
read more

Concerns over troops getting rooked by shady car dealers have prompted the Pentagon to get involved in the fight over a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

The Economist, March 15, 2010 
read more

Pentagon brass want a new consumer watchdog agency to regulate auto dealers so they don’t rip off troops.

Politico, March 9, 2010
read more

Cpl. Woods with Rosemary Shahan
~ Cpl. Woods with Rosemary Shahan of C.A.R.S.
After a shady auto dealer refused to give him back his own car, Iraq war vet and Marine Corporal William Woods was without wheels since August, 2009. That made it hard for him to look for a job -- until CARS President Rosemary Shahan presented him a Valentine's Day gift of $3000 to purchase a used car. Cpl. Woods is all smiles at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Sacramento, where he unwrapped his "new" used car. His dog Haley looks pretty happy too. But -- does she have a license to drive?

Update (July, 2010): "With his new set of wheels, Cpl. Woods found two new jobs, and was also able to drive to his younger brother's high school graduation.

CARS gives Iraq war vet Valentine's Day gift of a "new" used car, after dealer ripoff leaves him without wheels since last August.

CBS KPIX-TV Channel 5, February 12, 2010
read more

Marine Judge Advocate General (JAG) Officer describes how auto dealers scam our troops.

read more

CARS gains enactment of new law to expand protection under California's Landmark auto lemon law to military personnel stationed in CA.

Bill passes unanimously in state Assembly and Senate, is signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

read more

Lawsuit alleges that Dick Edwards Auto Plaza scammed soldiers "power booking" – financing phantom items.

Kansas City News,
 July 30, 2009
read more

"I love a mark in uniform: Kidnapping. Falsified documents. Hooters nights. Meet the sleazebucket car dealers who prey on our troops."

Mother Jones,
 July / August 2009
read more

Army puts Arizona dealership off-limits.

Automotive News,
 August 12, 2008
read more

Military base declares dealerships off-limits; Ex-cons threaten soldiers.

Arizona Daily Star, July 13, 2008
read more

Holidays are Open Season on Military Wallets; Auto Dealer Charges Marine $45,000 for $3,200 1995 Dodge Neon.

San Diego Union-Tribune, December 12, 2005
read more

After car breaks down, Iraq vet wages new battle -- with dealer.

Sacramento Bee, April 14, 2005
read more

Some Creditors Make Illegal Demands on Active-Duty Soldiers.

New York Times, March 28, 2005
read more

Auto scams are #1 source of consumer headaches for troops stationed in California.

Testimony by military legal officers and representative of Navy Marine Corps Relief Society
Assembly Banking and Finance Committee hearing, March 11, 2005.

read more

Car Dealers Rip Off Our Troops; Scamsters Preying On Military Families.

Dishonest repair shops, dealerships and lenders often take advantage of those in the armed services. A charity works to assist those in need.

The Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2003
read more

Marine Corps finds…
…that buying cars causes more problems than any other single financial factor, and financial problems can endanger the troops themselves, their unit, and the mission itself.

read more
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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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