California is among the state leaders in providing extensive and comprehensive consumer protection laws. However, this fact alone does not prevent predatory practices by unscrupulous business owners seeking to increase their bottom lines at the expense of their unsuspecting customers. The laws are of little value when the consumer is unaware of the fraud that is being perpetrated, and some say that the automotive industry is one of the worst offenders in this regard. Even regular, everyday transactions between some auto dealers and the purchaser or lessee of a vehicle must be carefully scrutinized.
Many people think of the California Lemon Law when they think of misconduct by the auto industry. These laws apply where a vehicle under warranty continues to experience mechanical problems that affect driver safety and cannot be repaired despite multiple attempts by the specific car dealer. In such a case that meets the statutory requirements, a replacement vehicle is provided, or the vehicle is returned, and the consumer is reimbursed for all out-of-pocket expenses. However, there are more insidious practices by auto dealers that the average car buyer probably doesn't know to look for.
Deal packing and payment packing refer to ways to get the consumer to pay more for a car than the true value of what they are receiving. One of the tactics the dealers use is offering an item or add-on for free or at an unrealistically low price. It's easy to see why a buyer would believe he or she is getting a good deal, but the dealer is either not paying for the item or it was already included in the offered package.
Deceptive business acts or unfair business practices that result in financial loss may be actionable and result in compensation to the consumer. An experienced lemon law attorney may provide advice on a potential course of action.