(Phoenix, Ariz. – Nov. 8, 2005) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced a settlement with Aufmuth Motors in Tucson for deceptively advertising “minimum” trade-in amounts and falsely advertising “free” gifts with purchase.
The consent judgment, filed today and approved by the Pima County Superior Court, settles the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office against the dealership. The lawsuit alleged the dealer deceptively advertised minimum trade-in amounts and falsely offered free gifts/promotional items while including the cost of those items in the price of the car being sold.
The settlement requires Aufmuth Motors to pay the Attorney General’s Office $50,000. The money will be used to pay for consumer education, attorneys’ fees and investigation costs. The settlement also requires future Aufmuth Motors advertisements to be clear, truthful and nonmisleading.
“Falsely advertising free gifts that are not really free at the end of the deal is unacceptable,” Goddard said. “Auto dealers and other businesses simply cannot include the cost of a `free' item in the price. `Free' means `free.'"
Aufmuth advertised free promotional items such as vacations and appliances for consumers who purchased a car. However, the cost of each item was included in the price of the vehicle, and Aufmuth would negotiate the free items by allowing some consumers to waive their right to receive the item in exchange for reducing the price of the car.
The Aufmuth stopped both advertisement practices by June 2004.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please contact the Arizona Attorney General's Office at 602.542.5763 in Phoenix; 520.628.6504 in Tucson; or 1.800.352.8431 outside the metro areas. You can also file an online complaint by visiting the Web site at www.azag.gov.