After allegations of unfair and deceptive practices, a New Hampshire car dealership has agreed to pay a $1.25 million settlement, offer restitution to two people who were deceived and submit to years of oversight.
The Dan O'Brien Kia dealership in Concord was investigated by the state's Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau after a spike in consumer complaints from 2019 to 2021, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office said. The investigation found that employees used deceptive sales practices to buy vehicles they couldn't afford, wrote on loan applications that customers had higher incomes than they really did and, in one case, forged a customer's signature on loan documents.
The $1.25 million agreement with the dealership's parent company, DMO Auto Acquisitions, requires that an independent compliance monitor be hired to keep tabs on business practices for five years, and that audio and video recordings be made of all substantial discussions about money between employees and customers, officials said. All DMO staff will need to be trained on New Hampshire's consumer protection laws.
The agreement was approved Monday by the Merrimack Superior Court, prosecutors said.
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DMO Auto Acquisitions "is pleased that this matter has been resolved so it can focus on serving its customers," an attorney for the organization, Brian Quirk, said in a statement Monday.
He noted that all issues raised by prosecutors have been addressed and that "there was no admission of wrongdoing." The organization welcomes monitoring, and said it's recorded transactions with customers for years.
"DMO's focus continues to remain on its customers and providing them with the best possible service," Quirk said.