Auto Fraud: The Price Is Wrong

Within the last week, the Associated Press reported that a lady who won a car on the game show “The Price is Right” had filed a lawsuit against the game show, CBS Broadcasting and the dealer who sold her the car. Back in 2004, she won a new 2004 Pontiac GTO Coupe while appearing on the show. She had the car for approximately a year when she took it in for service and learned that it had been wrecked and repaired before it was delivered to her as a “new” car.

This lawsuit has garnered publicity simply because of the connection with “The Price is Right.” Before I became a consumer lawyer, I would have read this article and thought what a freaky set of circumstances this was. A car dealer took a car that they knew had been wrecked, repaired it and passed it off to this contest winner, ripping her off for potentially thousands of dollars. Then the contest winner somehow finds out about it and sues. Wow. Sadly, these are not freaky circumstances. It happens every day all over the United States, and as I say that I don’t believe I’m exaggerating.

You see, before I became a consumer lawyer I didn’t realize how much money is involved in buying and selling cars in the U.S. Or how competitive the market is. Or how greedy dealers can be. Or how people who work in the industry, for whatever reason, get to a place where misleading consumers and taking advantage of them isn’t seen as wrong but as a legitimate way to do business.

I receive numerous calls from Indiana consumers every week about all kinds of issues. A majority of those calls, though, are from Indiana consumers who believe they have been ripped off by car dealers. Often, they have. The misrepresentations abound: never been wrecked, one owner – woman driver, warranty, actual mileage and on and on. Plus, my favorite misrepresentation, typically made in a phone call twenty or thirty days after the sale: we couldn’t get you financed so you need to bring the car back since there’s no deal – and if you keep the car you’ve stolen it and you’re a thief.

I used to be blissfully unaware of these things, but now I enjoy pursuing justice for victims of this kind of conduct. And, hopefully, somewhere along the way, I hope I can help some car dealers understand that, for dealers who make money off of Indiana consumers, The Price is Wrong.