Now Nina Pineda has the results of a two-month investigation that shows a disturbing trend of how prevalent this problem is.They either screamed or took off.
“I think they’re doing something wrong, I mean, why are you running if you’re doing something right?” Nissan owner Taylor Brown said.
Brown admits he was upset when he went to buy the Altima at the end of his lease and the purchase price was much higher than the residual value, or the price previously set in his original contract.
At South Shore Nissan in Amityville – quoted $1,365.10 higher price tag. And in the Nissan of Westbury – a colossal surcharge of $5,094.51.
“I felt helpless, who would I call?” Brown said. “So, I called 7 on your side.”
Related | Agents in the region are charging tens of thousands in excess of rental car purchases
Brown and 7 On Your Side went undercover at both agencies. Initially it was South Shore Nissan that was overcharging Brown for more than a significant amount – a bogus fee not written on the invoice. The seller called it “selling fee”.
Well, every dealership has a purchase fee for processing the lease purchase, the seller said.
The CFO nearby explained that Pineda asked if it was standard and each customer would get the fee.
“Yes, because you take his time, the finance guy should handle your papers,” said the manager.
He called it “above”. But moments later when Pineda asked him about the accusations – he denied mentioning them at all.
“I said all clients were charged,” Pineda said.
“I didn’t say that,” the manager said.
“I’m sorry you were saying that in front of the camera,” Pineda said. “You explain to them that they are for the overhead – to the sales manager.”
“I have no comment,” the manager said.
“It appears to be a pure profit for the dealer,” Pineda said.
Then the manager said he had nothing to say.
Our next stop was Nissan from Westbury. Brown originally got a bill laden with surcharges totaling more than $4,600.
The CFO said the $4,000 fee is standard and that every customer who makes a rental purchase is charged.
“So, like 60 customers who paid $4,000?” Pineda asked.
The manager said yes.
Calculate – that’s $239,700 in excess fees. We’ve caught eight Nissan dealerships in New York in case of overcharging.
Then 10 clients almost told us the extra costs. They all said the fees were different.
Brown billed it as a “purchase fee” and tried to pressure him for the “triple state lemon law fee”.
“So is the lemon law fee?” Pineda asked on the hidden camera.
“That’s right, to cover our responsibility with the state,” the director said.
See 7 On Your Side with a New York attorney general who said he never collected “Lemon Law” fees from agents.
However, back inside the agency, the onerous fees remained.
“It’s a 7 on your part, we have a problem with these accusations,” Pineda said.
Back to the CFO. He, too, denied charging the fees he had just explained.
He said, “I didn’t write that.”
“I wrote it – we all have in front of the camera to jot down all of this,” Pineda said. “I said this was an ‘administrative fee’, this was an additional fee. This fee is not…this is fictional. This is a deception.”
In the end, the South Shore general manager claimed they had done nothing wrong, but both he and Westbury’s chief financial officer agreed to the refunds.
They said that customers who were overcharged could come back and get a check from the agent.
Nissan Corporation told us these dealerships couldn’t charge these other fees they would keep, and within a day the dealers returned the money to every customer we went to—a total of $31,500.
Following our investigation, Nissan has also started accepting leases at no additional charge.
Taylor Brown even got a $300 discount.
“I really appreciate it,” Brown said.
How do you know if you think you were overcharged by purchasing a lease:
First – decide what price you have to pay.
Get the original lease papers and find the residual value. Add any fees included in your lease agreement.
Did you owe any rent payments when you did this? Add that and that should be the price of your car.
Then check the buyer’s invoice from the purchase.
Look at the car (before taxes). Compare the two. If it was different, you probably paid too much. Return to the agency. If they don’t help, file a complaint with 7 On Your Side and complain to the New York attorney general.
More 7 on your side | Pain in the pump: New York City’s “gas police” conduct random checks at stations
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