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Nissan car dealers in New York to pay $1.9 million in refunds and fines for lease purchase fees: New York Attorney General

NEW YORK (WABC) — New York Attorney General Leticia James announced Thursday that she obtained a $1.9 million deal with five New York Nissan dealerships, providing refunds to 1,138 consumers who James said were overcharged when purchasing their car lease.

7 On Your Side first reported on the deceptive practice at the beginning of the pandemic.

The allegations involved overcharging customers thousands of dollars to purchase their car at the end of the lease, adding a random fee on top of the car’s residual value or preset price at the end of the lease.

Eyewitness News brought the issue to Attorney General James’ attention in March 2022, but 7 On Your Side received its first complaint in 2020.

Due to rising car prices during the COVID-19 pandemic, many New Yorkers chose to keep their leased cars, rather than trade them in and purchase a more expensive vehicle.

After the initial report, viewers came forward to say that they too were being charged various fees, under all sorts of false names. 7 On Your Side used undercover cameras to expose their allegations.

On Thursday, the attorney general ordered dealers to audit all of their agreements and pay up.

Joe Macaluso was charged nearly $2,000 for what the dealership called a “Lemon Law fee” when he purchased his lease from Nissan of Staten Island.

That merchant agreed to return $282,255.61 in total to 184 consumers, plus a fine of $55,200.

“That’s what happens when you’re greedy!” Macaluso said.

According to James’ office, Nissan of Kings in Brooklyn reached an agreement to pay $437,560.86 to 420 car buyers and a $147,000 fine. Nissan of Queens reached an agreement to pay $608,347.83 to 276 of its customers and a fine of $69,757. Baron Nissan in Greenvale will refund 186 car buyers $204,656.89 and a fine of $51,190. And Nissan of Westbury will refund $102,636.07 to 72 consumers who overcharged and a $19,440 fine. That’s where 7 On Your Side went undercover with Long Island’s Taylor Brown.

In 2022, Brown said he needed help.

“Who am I going to call? So I called 7 On Your Side,” he said.

He was quoted a whopping $5,000 premium to purchase his Altima for a “Tri-State Lemon Law Purchase and Fee.” At that time, a manager told us that “every customer is charged for this.”

Leticia James told us then: “We received a number of complaints and our Office of Consumer Protection is investigating and encouraging each and every one of them to follow the law and get a good attorney.”

Macaluso, who has already been paid his restitution after involving 7 De Tu Lado years ago, said he was happy for other consumers.

“Nina, without you this would never have happened,” Macaluso said.

We contacted the five dealers mentioned in the agreement. Nissan of Westbury had no comment. The others did not respond to requests for comment, except for Baron Nissan in Greenvale, New York.

In a statement provided to 7 On Your Side by General Manager Brian Chabrier, he said: “We are happy to have resolved any issues raised by the Attorney General’s Office and, as one of Nissan’s longest-serving dealerships, we look forward to continuing to work “. with our long-standing customer base in the future.

Consumers entitled to restitution do not have to take any action to receive payment since the checks supposedly arrive by mail.

If you believe you have been defrauded in a deceptive or fraudulent lease purchase practice, you should file an online consumer complaint with the New York Attorney General’s office.

You can find a link here.

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Do you have a problem with a company that you haven’t been able to resolve? If so, 7 On Your Side wants to help you!

Fill out the form below or email your questions, problems, or story ideas by filling out the form below or sending an email 7OnYourSideNina@abc.com. All emails YOU MUST INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND CELL PHONE NUMBER. Without a phone number, 7 On Your Side will not be able to respond.

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