The Case of the Deceptive Car Dealership, Or Why That Used Car Might Be More Used Than You Think

George was in the market for a new car, and wanted to treat himself. He bought a Mercedes Benz. But ever frugal, George thought he’d save a couple bucks and buy used. He visited his local Mercedes dealer. Soon enough, he was the proud owner of a 2008 Mercedes Benz ML 350.

The honeymoon was quickly over. George noticed faint remnants of lettering on the back windshield. It looked like stickers had once been there, but were removed. George looked closer, and was mortified by what the words said.

“Courtesy Car.”

The Mercedes dealer had not sold him a regular used car. George had bought a “loaner.” The car was probably driven by many others before him. Outraged by this deception, George demanded a refund. The dealer offered to buy the car back, but for $10,000 less than George paid. George turned down the meager offer. His next stop was an attorney’s office.

George’s lawsuit claimed that the dealer’s failure to tell him that the car was a loaner was a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. At trial, a different car dealer testified that it was common practice to tell a buyer that a car was a loaner. It was also customary to discount the price.

The jury awarded George $75,000. The car dealer even had to pay George’s attorney fees. 

Now the car dealer may need to take out a “car loan.”