The state’s top consumer advocate is unhappy with the performance of car dealers when it comes to following the Massachusetts lemon law.
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Nearly half of more than 1,900 surveyed new and used cars for sale were missing the mandatory bright-yellow stickers that inform consumers of their rights under the state’s lemon laws, according to a survey conducted by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
“Not only is it important for car dealers to present the lemon law information to consumers so that they can make more informed decisions about their vehicle purchase, it’s the law,” said Barbara Anthony, undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
The survey examined both new and used cars for sale at 71 dealerships in 23 Massachusetts communities. Overall, 57.8 percent of the 1,921 cars surveyed had stickers showing on the car’s window.
Sixteen dealers, like Cambridge Honda, had perfect compliance with the law, but 17 dealers had zero compliance, failing to display stickers on any vehicles.
“Unfortunately there are a lot of fly by night dealerships — small used car lots — that really do not care very much about compliance with the state’s lemon law,” said Anthony.
Team 5 Investigates set out to get some answers, visiting some of the zero compliance dealerships.
Peter Frederico, owner of Master Used Cars in Somerville, told Team 5 he did not know he needed to have the lemon law stickers.
Frederico and two other owners Team 5 talked with promised they would get them right away.
“I want to do it the correct way,” said Frederico.
When Team 5 checked back in with Frederico and other dealers a few days later, lemon law stickers were now being displayed on every car vehicle.
The Massachusetts Independent Car Dealers Association told Team 5 that it’s not the dealers but education that is the main problem.
In Massachusetts, cities and towns give out licenses to sell cars, not the state.
“We feel the state should be educating the dealers more,” said Melissa Otis of MIADA.
Anthony said that the state plans on providing more education for cities and towns as they issue licenses.
“My advice is if you go shopping for a car and you don’t see the lemon law sticker, go to another dealer,” said Anthony.
Anthony said she will turn over her findings to the Attorney General’s Office and urge them to take action.
Dealers could face a $5,000 fine for each violation.
Last year, the Office of Consumer Affairs created an online tool that walks consumers through the provisions and eligibility requirements of the state’s lemon laws and arbitration programs.
For more information on the state’s new and leased car lemon law, used vehicle warranty law and lemon aid law, click here.