Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Wednesday, June 26, 2002


'Bait Advertising' Schemes Against Consumers Alleged

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn's office today filed lawsuits against three motor vehicle dealers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley for alleged sales practices designed to deceive prospective new car buyers.

The three dealers are Burns Motors Inc. in McAllen, Knapp Chevrolet Harlingen Inc. in Harlingen, and Yoder Ford Inc., dba Hacienda Ford, in Edinburg.

The Attorney General's office alleges the three have advertised frequently in local newspapers, specifying prices for which customers could purchase certain vehicles. Such advertising would suggest the dealerships were underselling other competitors, thus luring customers to their location.

However, customers were not told that an $800 security system would be added to the advertised price. The dealers also did not disclose to these customers that these security systems are optional. A tiny, inconspicuous footnote in the newspaper ads noted that the price of the security system was excluded from the advertised price, which is further evidence that the dealers did not intend to sell the vehicles at the advertised price. Only tax, title and license fees may be excluded from advertised prices, by state law.

Because the defendants had no intention of selling these vehicles at the prices advertised, the Attorney General's Office, in its lawsuits, has alleged the three have violated specific provisions of the Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

The practices also could violate specific rules of the Texas Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Board, which licenses such dealerships.

The Attorney General's office filed these suits in Hidalgo and Cameron County district courts.

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