New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs have filed a complaint against luxury used-car dealership 21st Century Auto Group, Inc. and its owner, Dmitry Zeldin, accusing the dealership of violations of state consumer protection laws. According to the Office of the Attorney General, 21st Century fails to disclose to consumers that certain vehicles have incurred prior damage and also advertises vehicles after they are sold in a “bait and switch” operation.
The A.G.’s Office prosecuted 21st Century and Zeldin five years ago on allegations of the same practices. In 2014, the parties entered into a settlement agreement, with the dealership agreeing to pay a penalty of $130,000 and make widespread changes to its business practices. The agreement also prohibited the dealership from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the future. However, the Division of Consumer Affairs reported that it continued to receive complaints about 21st Century following the settlement agreement.
“Businesses can’t just sign a settlement agreement and then go right back to the same dishonest practices that got them into trouble in the first place,” Grewal said in a statement. “They must abide by the reforms set forth in the agreement, especially those requiring them to stop deceiving customers.”
The complaint features new allegations against 21st Century, including the assertion that the dealership sold “gray market cars” – vehicles that are intended for distribution outside of the United States and do not necessarily meet safety and emissions standards required under federal law. The complaint alleges other violations, including:
- conducting credit checks without a consumer’s knowledge or authorization;
- failing to conspicuously post the total selling price of used motor vehicles;
- submitting false financial information to a lending institution;
- misrepresenting that certain used motor vehicles advertised and/or offered for sale were covered by a warranty;
- failing to refund monies paid by consumers after they cancelled the sales transaction;
- advertising used motor vehicles on the 21st Century Auto Group website at a price much lower than the price posted on the vehicle at the dealership location;
- failing to disclose to a consumer prior to purchase that a used motor vehicle had sustained major flood damage; and
- representing that, as part of a negotiated deal, they will make certain repairs to a used motor vehicle and then, after the sale is consummated, failing to do so.
The case is Gurbir S. Grewal, et al. v. 21st Century Auto Group, Inc., et al., pending in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Union County.