Grieco Auto Group Dispute Prosecutor Neronha . Claims

Wednesday 09 March 2022

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The Grieco Auto Group (pictured) has responded to Neronha’s legal claims.

Grieco Auto Group has fired back at Attorney General Peter Neronha’s claim that two of the company’s dealerships — Grieco Honda and Grieco Toyota — engaged in unfair pricing practices to consumers in violation of the Rhode Island Deceptive Business Practices Act (DTPA).

Nirunha’s office has filed a lawsuit – it was announced on Tuesday.

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George Smith, chief operating officer of Grieco Automotive Group, said the company has not received any complaints from consumers regarding pricing issues.

Smith said the attorney general’s office never contacted the company about any issues and was only notified when the lawsuit was filed.

In 2021, the Grieco Automotive Group sold more than 8,700 new and used cars in RI. Smith said the Grieco Automotive Group has more than 300 employees in RI and generates millions of dollars in employment taxes, sales taxes, income taxes and property taxes.

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RI Attorney General Peter Nironha. Photo: GoLocal

“The Grieco Automotive Group has an excellent reputation among its customers and in the RI business community which we truly deserve, and we will do everything in our power to maintain that reputation,” Smith said.
Smith argues every aspect of the charges brought by Niroha.

Regarding the Honda dealership, Smith said, “We are listing our new vehicles with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (“MSRP”) on our website for customer informational and comparison shopping purposes only, as most other dealers do.”

“Determining the MSRP on our dealer’s website is a requirement of the Honda manufacturer,” Smith said. “We sell many of our new vehicles at or below MSRP. We have never announced a ‘discounted price’ that we have not respected.”

The Neronha suit states, “For each motorized vehicle listed on its website, Grieco Honda advertises one price with the title ‘MSRP’ or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. As shown in Figure A, this price is shown at the top of the Online advertising:

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Figure 1 in AG . complaint

The lawsuit goes that “Grieco Honda’s online advertisements include a disclosure that the displayed price “does not include taxes, licensing, or document fees.” [sic]. Grieco Honda’s advertisements do not disclose any other types of fees that can be added to the price of a vehicle, such as “addition fees.” Based on Grieco Honda’s false advertising, customers are deceived into believing that they can buy cars at a certain price when, in fact, Grieco Honda does not intend to honor that price.”

Regarding the lawsuit against the Toyota dealership, Smith says, “Due to market conditions and a very low inventory of new cars, we decided that instead of selling many used and bargain vehicles at wholesale auctions, we would instead keep them and sell them directly to the consumer, often At prices similar to those we realize today at wholesale auctions.”

“We spoke to our advertising company, based in Florida, to let them know that we would be selling these used vehicles and trade-ins at retail rather than bringing them to wholesale auctions. Our advertising company created the online promotion, and didn’t realize it wasn’t in compliance with RI dealership advertising guidelines. which do not allow specific pricing references in the auto industry even though that is allowed in almost every other industry,” Smith adds.

“Once we received the complaint from the attorney general’s office, we quickly took action and removed all language that was not in compliance with RI’s motor vehicle advertising guidelines,” Smith added.

Smith said, “We deny all allegations of any kind of deceptive business practice.”

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