Arizona auto dealers pay penalty for false, confusing ads

carTwo Phoenix-area auto dealers settled with the state of Arizona for $195,000 for misleading car buyers with advertising.

An investigation from 2005 to 2009 by Attorney General Terry Goddard found false advertising by Steve Coury Automotives and Avondale Automotive. The state says the dealers advertised discounts for new car prices but sold used ones; used confusing disclaimers and footnotes in print ads separated by different pages; promised credit approval using deceptive advertising; and running games or contests that forced participants to buy a car to enter.

Steve Coury Automotives, which includes Lincoln-Mercury and Buick Pontiac and GMC dealerships in Cottonwood, Ariz. and Steve Coury Automotive Family, Inc., in Camp Verde, will pay $95,000 in settlement fees.

Avondale Automotive owes the state $100,000 and has a consent judgement with the Arizona attorney general to give training to managers and sales staff about unlawful advertising. In addition, marketing or advertising organizations outside of Avondale Automotive must obtain summaries of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, according to the court injunction.

Dealership representatives from Steve Coury Automotives and Avondale Automotive could not be reached for comment.

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