A Massachusetts used-car dealership and its owner have been ordered to stop selling unsafe and unreliable vehicles to consumers in an enforcement action filed by the state’s attorney general.
A request for emergency injunctive relief was granted in New Bedford Superior Court against F&R Auto Sales Inc. in Westport and owner Francis Correiro.
The AG’s office sued the dealership and Correiro on Sept. 13 after receiving more than 100 consumer complaints since 2012 about their alleged unfair and deceptive practices, including the routine sale of defective vehicles and the failure to provide proper transactional documents to consumers.
According to the AG’s complaint, F&R Auto and Correiro violated the state consumer protection laws by using unfair and deceptive acts in the sale of used motor vehicles in Massachusetts.
The AG’s Office conducted an investigation into the dealership in cooperation with the Westport Police Department and the Westport Board of Selectmen. During a series of inspections of the dealership in 2015 and 2016, Westport Police found vehicles in decrepit conditions and evidence of shoddy repair work being performed.
They also found piles of documents containing sensitive personal consumer information, including Social Security and financial account numbers in an open dumpster on the site.
Based on complaints against F&R Auto, the AG’s lawsuit alleges that the defendants frequently misrepresented to buyers that vehicles were safe and reliable in order to make sales. The AG’s office examined inspection reports of recently purchased vehicles that revealed significant safety issues, including defects in suspension, emissions, airbags, directional lights, and brakes.
The AG’s investigation also found that consumers would often drive away from the dealership and the check engine light would come on or the car would fail a safety and emissions test after they purchased it. When consumers discovered issues with their cars, the dealership would allegedly frequently dismiss them or refuse to make repairs.
The dealership and Correiro also failed to provide consumers with statutorily mandated purchase transactional documents, including Motor Vehicle Purchase Contracts, Retail Installment Sales Contracts, odometer statements and title documents, thereby interfering with consumers’ ability to fully exercise their legal rights.
The lawsuit further alleges that F&R Auto and Correiro illegally disclaimed warranties on the vehicles and failed to properly execute assignment and warranty of title on vehicles they sold.