Attorney General Hardy Myers today filed a court action against a Hillsboro car dealer for unconscionable sale tactics used by its employees to coerce a 78-year-old consumer with Alzheimer's Disease into purchasing seven vehicles in one month.
Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance is Hillsboro Automotive Group that does business as Hillsboro Chrysler Plymouth Jeep Warehouse, 750 SW Oak, in Hillsboro. The agreement admits no violation of law.
"We are seeing an increase in complaints from Oregon families whose elderly parents were pressured into purchasing automobiles," Myers said. "Families dealing with aging parents have enough challenges without having unscrupulous salespeople prey on their loved ones."
Department of Justice staff began investigating in March 2000 allegations from family members of 78-year-old James D. Rickards of Hillsboro concerning the unconscionable sales tactics of Hillsboro Chrysler employees. Investigators found that between February and March 2000, the car dealership sold Rickards seven vehicles, valued at $244,708. During the transactions, Rickards traded in two of his own low-mileage vehicles.
Rickards, who has dementia and no driver's license, was sold a late model Jeep Wrangler, two Jeep Grande Cherokees, a Chrysler TC sports car, a Chrysler Concorde, a Dodge Intrepid and a Plymouth Prowler convertible.
Under the agreement, Hillsboro returned to the family one of Rickards' trade-in vehicles and paid Rickards $90,879. The car dealership also will pay the Department of Justice $31,000 of which $27,495 will be deposited into the Consumer Protection and Education Fund and $3,505 will pay for the victim's private attorney fees. A private, civil case filed on behalf of Rickards against Hillsboro will be dismissed as part of the agreement.
Hillsboro also agreed to develop a binding arbitration procedure for unresolved consumer complaints. The company will conduct a training program for its sales and finance personnel regarding Oregon's consumer protection laws and the appropriate course of conduct and ethics involved when selling automobiles to senior citizens. Representatives from AARP or a similar organization will conduct this training regarding older consumers.
During any transaction where there may be a question as to the consumer's competency to enter into a contract, Hillsboro's general sales manager must review the agreement to ensure that the consumer has the apparent capacity to enter into a contract.
Consumers wanting information about buying used cars and scams against seniors may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. The Department of Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) email@example.com