Unlicensed operation: Unruly Flatlands car dealership shut down by city regulators

Unlicensed operation: Unruly Flatlands car dealership shut down by city regulators
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The city shut down a Flatlands auto dealer accused of predatory sales tactics for operating without a license on Wednesday, according to the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

“[Champion Auto Sales] cannot continue to flout the city’s laws and prey on New Yorkers,” said department Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We believe they lied to consumers about everything from the prices of their cars to the condition of their cars. They are not fit to operate in New York City.”

Among several other infractions, owners of Champion Auto Sales allegedly swindled consumers by advertising a lower sale price for their inventory and then charged a higher price during the signing process, investigators said.

In one instance, a customer purchased a 2013 Nissan Rogue — which was advertised online as $9,980 — but they were charged $13,000 after being rushed through the signing process, the agency said.

Additionally, the dealership allegedly failed to conduct mandated safety inspections on their vehicles and failed to provide customers with receipts of deposit — in addition to multiple other illicit actions, according to investigators.

But when Champion’s management later applied to renew their business license, which expired on July 31, they allegedly lied about their past behaviour — leading city bureaucrats to deny the dealer’s renewal application.

Still the dealer — on Utica Avenue between Avenues K and L — continued to sling used cars, leading regulators to finally pull the plug on Nov. 6.

As part of their investigation, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protections reached a settlement with Champion’s financial lending company — which financed the dealer’s suspect transactions. As part of that settlement, the department secured over $105,000 in damages for 11 customers, and required the money lender to work to remove any negative information on the consumers’ credit reports that resulted from the dealership’s allegedly deceptive transactions.

Champion’s closure comes amid a continuous nine-year rise in auto loan debt accrued by New York State residents, according to the state’s Federal Reserve Bank.

And customers’ problems with auto dealers are widespread, according to the department, which claimed to have issued nearly $3.3 million in fines since 2014 that resulted from over 8,500 complaints regarding the industry.

Brooklyn’s Champion Auto Sales LLC could not be reached for comment.

Reach reporter Jessica Parks at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jparks@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @_JessicaParks.