The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged that Napleton auto dealerships in four states charged customers hidden fees for additional unwanted products and discriminated against black customers by charging them higher financing fees and interest rates than non-Hispanic customers.
The Federal Trade Commission said Napleton will pay $10 million for the settlement, millions of which will be distributed to customers.
The lawsuit says dealers often slip hundreds or thousands of dollars in illegal fees into the auto financing papers they gave people to sign.
Agents charged customers for products like extended warranties and service plans — fees that are usually added to the funded amount and spread across monthly payments, so they have been difficult for consumers to determine, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The lawsuit alleged that Napleton agents incorrectly informed people that the add-ons were required to purchase or finance the vehicle.
The claims relate to eight of the 51 Ed Napleton dealership group locations in Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Missouri.
No Indiana dealers were named in the lawsuit or settlement, although WRTV is aware of two dealers from Ed Napleton’s dealership group – Kia’s Napleton of Fishers and Maserati in Indianapolis.
Just last month, WRTV Investigates told you about a Fishers Napleton Kia customer who allegedly forged her signature on documents including a service plan she didn’t want.
Previous | A woman is filing a lawsuit claiming a power of attorney with a forged signature
Greenfield’s Jessica Portner also said she would never have agreed to a $1,954 service plan with the dealer.
“Napleton Kia is nowhere near to me changing the oil or spinning my tyres. There’s no way I would have gone 45 minutes out of my way to get that done,” she said.
The lawsuit filed by Jessica Buertner, which is still pending, against Napleton Kia of Fishers alleges that it violated the Indiana Consumer Deceptive Sales Act and the Federal Truth in Lending Act.
Kia Fisher was not named Napleton in the lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission.
The lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission alleged that eight agents violated the Illinois law for consumer fraud and deceptive business practices.
The FTC’s lawsuit against Napleton also says that it charged black customers about $99 more for add-ons and $190 more in financing than it charged non-Hispanic customers with similar ancestry.
“Finance fees were added as increases to the interest rates offered by lenders working with defendants, driving up costs for customers,” the Federal Trade Commission said in a statement.
One consumer cited in the FTC lawsuit reported that an Arlington Heights, Illinois, agent charged him nearly $4,000 in surcharges after he paid a similar amount as a down payment.
Napleton denies any wrongdoing.
Full statement for WRTV:
“While we vehemently deny any wrongdoing, Ed Napleton’s group of agents has resolved disputed claims filed by the Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Attorney General’s office. We made this decision to avoid disrupting an ongoing dispute with the government. As a result, we have reluctantly decided that resolution of these matters served.” Our long term business interests.
This settlement is the result of a three-year process where we provided full transparency to the government. Most of her claims were based on interpretations of statistical data and there was no actual discovery of an intentional error.
The Napleton family has been in business for over 90 years, selling and servicing millions of vehicles. We are proud of our trusted, time-tested reputation and relationship with our clients and are fully committed to transparency in all our dealings.
The governments’ unsubstantiated claims relate to eight of the 51 sites for selling Ed Napleton’s agent group. Agents outside of Ed Napleton’s group of agents named Napleton were not part of this inquiry.
We have taken steps to implement additional safeguards to ensure complete transparency for our clients. We intend to continue to build on the trust we have worked so hard to create with the consuming public and look forward to establishing new relationships with generations of satisfied customers in the future.”
The defendants in the case are:
- North American Automotive Services, Inc. , also operating as the Ed Napleton Automotive Group (Oak Brook, Illinois)
- Ed Napleton Elmhurst Imports, Inc. , also does business as the Napleton Kia of Elmhurst / Ed Napleton Acura (Elmhurst, Ill.)
- Naples, Arlington Heights Motors, also operates as Arlington Heights Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (Arlington Heights, Illinois)
- Hetko Kadrick, general manager of two Illinois-based agencies
- Napleton North Palm Auto Park, Inc. , also does business as the Northlake Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Naples (Lake Park, Florida).
- Napleton Enterprises, LLC, also does business as Napleton South Orlando/Kissimmee Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (Kissimmee, Florida)
- Clermont Motors, LLC, also operates as the Clermont Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Naples (Clermont, Florida).
- North Palm Motors, LLC, also does business as the Northlake Kia in Naples (North Palm Beach, Florida).
- Napleton Elllwood Motors, Inc. , also operating as the Ellwood Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (Ellwood City, PA) in Naples
- Napleton Mid Rivers Imports, Inc. , also operating as the Napleton Mid Rivers Kia (St. Peters, Missouri)
The FTC said in a statement that the settlement would also require Napleton to create a comprehensive fair lending program that, among other components, would cover the additional interest margin it could charge consumers.
The settlement also requires the car dealership group to charge consumers fees only with express and informed consent, and prohibits them from misrepresenting the cost or terms of buying, renting or financing a car, or whether the fees or charges are optional, the FTC said. .