04/16/13 Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Attorney General Greg Zoeller today announced a settlement that could mean more than $130,000 reimbursed to Hoosiers overcharged by a car dealer. The settlement reached between the Attorney General’s office and Auto Park of Plymouth, IN follows a joint investigation with Secretary Lawson’s office that found clients were being excessively overcharged for paperwork. The Auto Park was charging customers an exorbitant document preparation fee as a condition of the sale and delivery of a motor vehicle. The Auto Park has agreed to reimburse clients for the excessive fees.
“Thanks to a vigilant consumer who read the fine print, about 3,800customers will get some of their money back,” said Secretary Lawson. “I also want to thank Attorney General Zoeller and his staff for their work on this case. This is another example of the great partnership between our offices for the benefit of Indiana’s consumers.”
The investigation began when a consumer complained about charges labeled “doc fee.” After reviewing the documents, investigators were able to determine that the doc fees on a high volume of sales were not capable of being reasonably related to document preparation and therefore excessive. Indiana law requires doc fees to be disclosed, negotiated, reflective of actual expenses and noted on the purchase agreement.
“Buying a vehicle can be a complex and expensive purchase and that is why it’s important to read and understand the entire written agreement before signing,” Zoeller said. “Document preparation fees are not required by the state so consumers should ask what the charge entails and try to negotiate the price.”
Zoeller thanked the Secretary of State’s office for their efforts and Deputy Attorney General Mark Snodgrass for his work on this case and dedication to the Consumer Protection Division.
Customers who were charged a document preparation fee of $228 between November 1, 2010 and November 1, 2012 will receive a refund of $34 from Auto Park. Refunds will be mailed directly to eligible customers.