Monday, May 18, 2009

Missouri Attorney General files suit against Suzuki Motor Corporation

From Missouri Netizen
Released by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's Office

Kansas City, Mo. --Attorney General Chris Koster today filed suit against American Suzuki Motor Corporation, charging the company with deceiving consumers with advertisements that promised no or low monthly payments “for life” that did not deliver as promised. The Attorney General said Suzuki encouraged a local dealership to air an advertising campaign that Suzuki knew was a misrepresentation and deceived consumers into buying Suzuki vehicles.
According to Koster, Suzuki Corporation urged the local dealership, Legend Suzuki, to air advertisements in the Kansas City area that promised consumers they could buy new Suzuki vehicles at no or low monthly rates “for life,” not disclosing that the deal only covered ten months to a year, and that consumers would have to re-qualify for the deal at the end of the initial period. In fact, most consumers were not able to obtain financing or refinancing at that time, and ended up having to pay high monthly payments or default on their loan and lose the car if they could not afford the payment. Most consumers whose cars were repossessed ended up with badly damaged credit.

The Attorney General said Suzuki Corporation knew the deceptive ads had caused consumer complaints when they were used earlier by a car dealership in South Carolina.

“It is outrageous for a company to air advertisements that so purposefully tricked consumers,” Koster said. “Suzuki Motors knew the ads were deceptive. Suzuki knew they were making promises they had no intention of keeping. It is time for Suzuki to make this right with the people who bought their cars in good faith.”

Koster said about 120 Missourians purchased new Suzuki cars in the time frame the deceptive advertisements were running, from May 2007 until January 2008.

In August 2008 the Attorney General’s office filed suit against the dealership’s owner, Chad Franklin. Subsequent evidence led to today’s suit against the corporation, charging that Suzuki knew the advertisements had led to consumer complaints, yet encouraged the dealership to run them.

“In fact,” Koster said, “Suzuki helped the dealership pay to run these ads, even though the company knew the advertisements they were paying for were deceptive.”

Koster’s lawsuit seeks to stop Suzuki from any similar advertising, order Suzuki to provide restitution for all customers affected by the deceptive ad campaign and to pay civil penalties and court costs.

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