Deceptive Vehicle Leases and Bogus Dealer Fees

Since COVID-19 disrupted the automobile industry, car dealerships and automotive finance companies are exploring new tricks to increase their profits at the expense of consumers. This is particularly true with vehicle leases, but fortunately, there are federal and state laws which protect consumers from these predatory practices.

Overview

The Consumer Leasing Act (“CLA”) provides many protections for consumers, but most notably, it mandates that a lease—including an automobile lease—discloses all of the fees and costs associated with the lease. If a dealership or lessor attempts to impose additional fees aside from those in the original lease, it may be violating the CLA.

Significantly, these disclosure requirements also apply to those pesky “dealer fees” and other miscellaneous fees added at the start or termination of a lease, including fees associated with purchasing a vehicle at the conclusion of a lease.

A violation of the CLA entitles consumers to a broad variety of money damages, including refunds of improperly charged fees and awards of additional damages up-to $2,000, whether you paid those unlawful extra charges or not.

A dealership may not charge extra fees on top of those disclosed in the lease.

Due to the rising cost of new and used vehicles, many dealerships are now attempting to charge extra fees when a consumer attempts to purchase their vehicle at the conclusion of a lease term. However, if those fees are not explicitly disclosed in the lease you signed, the dealership may not charge those fees, no matter how persuasive (or pushy) the salespeople or finance employees may be.

Simply put, charging an unauthorized fee at the conclusion of a lease is a violation of the lease, and a likely violation of the CLA. This even applies even in situations where you were quoted those fees, and decided not to move forward with the transaction.

Some states have additional protections on top of the CLA.

In addition to the CLA, some states have additional protections for consumers against these and other types of deceptive trade practices against consumers.

As a result, even if a dealership did not violate the CLA, it is possible that it violated other consumer protection laws. If you would like to learn more, or believe that you are a victim of a violation of the CLA or other consumer protection laws, please email info@pkglegal.com, or call (561) 726-8444 to speak to a PKG attorney.

Have you been quoted—or already paid—improper fees at a dealership?
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