FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHERRY HILL, N.J. (September 25, 2006) – A 77-year-old man filed suit this past week against the Cherry Hill Triplex automotive group of Southern New Jersey, claiming bait and switch tactics, deception, and theft. Responding to an advertisement offer guaranteeing $8,000 for his trade, Kenneth Hammel of Fairless Hills, PA says he was eventually charged over $42,000 for a 2005 Kia Sedona, that actually had a retail price of $23,250.
Hammel, who is physically disabled and requires the use of a motorized wheelchair, claims to have traveled to the Cherry Hill Triplex dealership from his home in Bucks County to trade in his 2000 Chrysler Town & Country for a vehicle that could accommodate a motorized lift. After many hours of high-pressure selling, Hammel agreed to purchase a 2005 silver Kia Sedona.
After demanding a $4,000 deposit, the salesman insisted on accompanying Hammel to the bank to make the withdrawal. Approximately 12 hours after his arrival at Cherry Hill Triplex, Hammel drove home in a new 2005 Kia Sedona, at a purchase price of $23,940.48, $700 more than the suggested retail price of the car.
The next day, Hammel noticed the motorized lift installed by the dealership was not functioning correctly. He contacted Cherry Hill Triplex and was advised to drop off the vehicle for repair three weeks later. When he returned, Hammel alleges the dealership presented him with a different car – a beige 2005 Kia Sedona, claiming it to be the same car. Cherry Hill also insisted that Hammel fill out paperwork and asked for his ATM card for "a credit reference". After he did as he was told, dealer personnel admitted it was a different car, but claimed that the beige van was "better".
At this time, unbeknownst to Hammel, the dealership was actually trading in the new car he purchased a few weeks prior, subtracting nearly $8,000 for depreciation, and selling him a second new car at the purchase price of $42,662.92, an increase of more than $18,000 from the previous sale. The annual percentage rate increased from 7.49% to 10.4% and the monthly payment rose from $250 a month to $385.88. Hammel was asked to sign additional paperwork and was told it was needed to "complete" the original sale, when in actuality, it was required to complete the trade.
Two days later, Hammel discovered that the dealership used his ATM card without authorization, withdrawing $2,000 from Hammel's bank account.
According to his attorney, Craig Thor Kimmel, Hammel was victimized in several ways, some common frauds given the name "spot delivery with yo-yo", where the consumer is sold a car, delivered with a known problem, in this case the poor wheelchair lift installation, to get the consumer back at a later date, when new documents are signed at higher contract prices, higher monthly payments, additional cash deposits, and/or a different finance rate.
Kimmel says that each of the changes, misrepresentations and acts of non-disclosure were unlawful and deceptive business practices, but not unusual given high profits that can be realized. "This is a particularly outrageous case however, because it involves a highly vulnerable consumer, a senior citizen in need of wheelchair assistance, taken advantage of by certain business practices. While we see cases involving some of these facts on a daily basis, rarely have I seen one as troubling and upsetting as this," says Kimmel.
With five full-service offices, located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Delaware, Kimmel & Silverman is the Northeast's oldest and largest Lemon Law and automotive consumer advocacy firm. The firm has provided cost-free Lemon Law and breach of warranty help to more than 45,000 consumers since its inception in 1991, recovering over $140 million for their clients.
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