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Auto FraudConsumer FraudFalse AdvertisingSucker Punched: How to Fight Back Against a Car Dealership


You might have watched a prize fight or an MMA battle that involved one or more less than clean breaks after the bell sounded. Referred to as a sucker punch, the practice within a competitive ring or octagon has relevance in the automotive industry, albeit without the physical bruises a sucker punch often leaves behind.

A sucker punch in the automotive industry occurs when a car dealership tricks a car buyer into purchasing a vehicle the car buyer would not have purchased if the auto dealer played by the rules.

If you think a car dealership committed fraud, you have several ways to fight back against the proverbial sucker punch. From filing a complaint to initiating a civil lawsuit, California car buyers do not have to take a sucker punch that can cost thousands of dollars.

First Things first

Getting the short end of a vehicle purchase agreement can make the blood boil quickly. The initial reaction is to fight back hard against the car dealership that committed auto fraud. However, some auto dealers simply make honest mistakes when it comes to a vehicle purchase agreement. Therefore, you want to tread lightly at first when handling an issue that you have with a motor vehicle dealership.

Because of the high emotions that you feel, the most effective way to communicate with an auto dealer is to enlist the help of a California-licensed auto fraud attorney. Whether you or your lawyer contact the car dealer that sucker-punched you in a sales transaction, the tone of the contact should be cordial with a focus on using clear language. Start by sending an email to the electronic mail address of the business, and then follow up with a phone call to the business manager of the car dealership.

You might be able to recover some or all of the money lost because an auto dealer made an honest mistake.


Get the State Involved

California is not just known for passing some of the toughest consumer protection laws in the United States. The state also has earned a justified reputation for thoroughly enforcing consumer protection laws as well. A phone call to the California Department of Justice or an email to the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) can motivate a car dealership to address any acts of fraud.

The key is to provide a California agency with evidence that an auto dealer committed one or more acts of fraud. State agencies do not act on hearsay when investigating consumer fraud complaints of any kind. For example, evidence that you should send to the DCA includes a copy of the vehicle purchase agreement and any collaborating documents that present evidence of fraud.

Contact the Better Business Bureau

Many car buyers conduct thorough research before contacting a car dealer for the first time. Some of the research involves reading customer reviews and accessing the Better Business Bureau (BBB) page of an auto dealership. The BBB posts consumer complaints about businesses and when it comes to BBB complaints, the old adage ‘The more the merrier” does not apply. You can file a complaint with the BBB, but the BB does not have the power to resolve the complaint.

File a Civil Lawsuit

Sometimes, a sucker punch delivered by a car dealer requires legal action to fix the problem. Filing a civil lawsuit should be the last option you implement to motivate an auto dealership to provide a remedy for an act of fraud. A civil lawsuit can include an allegation of intentional deception and/or a charge that a car dealership refused to address your complaint. Once again, collecting and organizing evidence is the key to winning a civil lawsuit filed against an auto dealer.

Work with an Experienced Consumer Protection Attorney

Filing a civil lawsuit is not the only reason you should work with an experienced California consumer protection lawyer. An attorney can file all the paperwork required for contacting a state agency, as well as act as the intermediary between you and the auto dealership. The first thing most consumer protection lawyers do is try to reach a settlement with a car dealership. Most auto fraud attorneys that litigate civil lawsuits work on a contingency fee basis, which means they get paid when their clients get paid.

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