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Crawford County Used Car Dealer Pays $1,500; Halts Illegal Warranty Agreements

Issued: Monday, May 21, 2001
Contact: 717-787-5211

HARRISBURG Attorney General Mike Fisher's Bureau of Consumer Protection has reached a settlement with a Crawford County used car dealer who is accused of providing consumers with illegal warranty agreements on the vehicles they purchased from the dealership.

"These warranty agreements contradicted the law by charging consumers for repairs that were required to be made at the dealership," Fisher said. "Our settlement prohibits that practice and will ensure that consumers are not charged for warranty work that must be performed by the seller."

Fisher said an "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" agreement was reached with Harry W. Bish and Wendy M. Bish, doing business as Harry's Auto Sales, 14476 Conneaut Lake Road, Meadville, Crawford County. The agreement resolves alleged violations of Pennsylvania's Consumer Protection Law, Automotive Trade Practices Regulations and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Fisher's Office in May 2000 sent a warning letter to the dealer regarding the use of illegal warranty agreements. -more-

-2- According to agents with Fisher's Bureau of Consumer Protection, the dealership in 2000 and 2001 offered used car buyers a "50-50" warranty incentive, which specified that all of the covered repairs must be performed by the dealership. Under the warranty plan, consumers were required to pay for 50 percent of the cost of labor and 50 percent of the cost of parts for any covered repairs.

Under the federal Warranty Act, a car dealer cannot charge for warranty repairs if the buyer is required to have the car serviced at a specified garage or repair facility, including the dealership where the car was purchased. Likewise, a consumer may not be required to pay for parts or items that are specified by brand-name in order to get the benefit of the warranty. The law also provides that when the buyer is free to choose his or her own repair shop, the buyer may then be required to pay 50 percent of the repair bill.

Fisher said failure to comply with the federal Warranty Act is also a violation of Pennsylvania's Auto Regulations and Consumer Protection Law.

"Before buying a new or used car I urge consumers to review the laws regarding automobile warranties," Fisher said. "These laws are designed to protect consumers from paying for repairs covered under the warranty or paying inflated repair costs." Under the terms of the settlement, Harry's Auto Sales admits no wrongdoing and is required to:

  • Bring all warranty agreements into compliance with applicable state and federal laws.
  • Pay $1,500 in civil penalties and investigation costs.

    The Assurance was filed in Crawford County Court by Deputy Attorney General Leslie M. Grey of Fisher's Bureau of Consumer Protection Office in Erie.

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