About 10,000 Georgia car owners received what appeared to be an alarming flier from General Motors last fall. “Urgent Potential Recall Notice,” the mailing announced in large, bold type.
In fact, there was no recall. The flier wasn’t even from GM. Instead, state regulators now say, it was the latest in a 16-year pattern of deceptive sales pitches by the largest car dealer based in Georgia: Bill Heard Chevrolet.
In a lawsuit filed Friday, the first of its kind in 32 years, the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs alleged the October mailing was intended to trick car owners into believing their vehicles were unsafe. Heard was trying to sell new cars or service plans on old autos, the lawsuit said.
The Columbus-based dealer disputes the suit’s claim that any violation was “willful,” J. Matthew Maguire, one of the dealer’s lawyers, said Monday. Company executives admit the mailing was “not appropriate,” he said, but contend the blame lies with an advertising firm.
Right. It’s all the ad agency’s fault. Because car dealers so rarely use deceptive advertising practices. They’d never ask for, or approve and pay for, those kinds of mailers. But those sneaky ad agencies, well, you can never trust them…
In terms of sales, Bill Heard is the largest car dealer in the state of Georgia. And after a TV news expose, the dealership pulled out of Nashville altogether. So it’s not like this case involves some penny-ante redneck auto lot. But they mostly sell Chevys. Would a Lexus dealer pull this kind of crap?