SACRAMENTO -- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced his office was filing a lawsuit against Paul Blanco’s Good Car Company, which has dealership locations in Sacramento, Stockton and Fairfield.
The AG’s office claims the dealership purposely mislead customers to buy cars they couldn’t afford, falsely advertised and lied on credit applications so customers could get loans.
“For many families, the most expensive one-time purchase that they will make is not a home. For many, it is their vehicle,” Becerra said.
With seven locations across California, the dealership says it employs 488 Californians and helps thousands of low-income people afford a car.
But Becerra’s office says the company falsely advertised on TV and radio credit and discount programs which don’t exist.
“The dealership even promoted a program for senior citizens that supposedly offered reduced prices and interest rates and an easier approval process, when in reality no such program ever existed,” Becerra said.
Paul Blanco is also accused of lying to customers about add-on services -- claiming their customers legally had to buy those services -- which add an extra cost of as much as $4,000.
“And often it required the buyer to take out an expensive loan,” Becerra said.
But perhaps the most shocking accusation by the Department of Justice is they claim Paul Blanco employees would physically cover parts of disclosure paperwork with their hands while customers signed them.
“It tells you how much your vehicle costs, how much interest you’re going to pay over time,” Deputy Attorney General Hunter Landerholm said. “And we slap it down in front of you on the table with our open hand covering up the disclosure.”
The Department of Justice says it is not looking to shut the business down but the lawsuit is seeking to hit the company with a $2,500 civil penalty for each violation.
“We certainly have had information from customers who have had, it’s fair to say, life-altering experiences with this dealership network,” Landerholm said.
Paul Blanco responded to the lawsuit later Monday, saying it is “vowing to fight the allegations made against the company. In the suit, the Attorney General’s office demands penalties for alleged practices that are widespread and commonplace in the auto industry. The complaint largely focuses on technicalities.”