Ed Napleton Automotive, headquartered in Illinois, has agreed to $10 million to settle a lawsuit filed against the auto dealer for charging thousands of Black consumers for add-ons without their consent.
The Federal Trade Commission and Illinois filed the consumer complaint against the dealer, eight of its dealerships in Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri on March 31. The lawsuit alleges Black customers at the dealerships were charged about $190 more in interest and paid $99 more for similar add-ons than “similarly situated” white customers.
“Working closely with the Illinois Attorney General, we are holding these dealerships accountable for discriminating against minority consumers and sneaking junk fees onto people’s bills,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “Especially as families struggle with rising car prices, dealerships that cheat their customers can expect to hear from us.”
Napleton is one of the largest Illinois-based auto groups, with 51 dealerships in eight states. According to the complaint, the eight Napleton Automotive dealerships and the general manager of two Illinois locations illegally tacked fees for payment insurance, paint protection, and other add-ons without the customers’ permission.
Some had already rejected the products. The FTC said that the illegal junk fees cost consumers hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
The lawsuit alleges that 83 percent of Black auto buyers surveyed during the investigation were charged add-on fees without authorization or by deception. The customers were told the add-ons were free or mandatory in other cases.
Under the agreement, $9.95 million of the $10 million judgment will be awarded to consumers, and $50,000 will be paid to the Illinois Attorney General Court Ordered and Voluntary Compliance Payment Projects Fund.
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