FTC sending next installment of consumer payments from $8.8M Napleton settlement
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission said it began to send a second round of payments totaling more than $857,000 to consumers who were harmed by Illinois-based Napleton Automotive Group’s “junk fees” and discriminatory practices.
The FTC and the state of Illinois sued Napleton Automotive Group last March, alleging that Napleton employees were “sneaking illegal junk fees for unwanted add-ons onto vehicle purchases and discriminating against Black consumers.
“According to the joint complaint, eight of the company’s dealership illegally tacked on junk fees for unwanted “add-on” products such as payment insurance and paint protection, costing consumers hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” the FTC recapped in a news release. “The complaint also alleged that Napleton discriminated against Black consumers by charging them more for add-ons and financing.”
The matter settled for what the FTC deemed to a record amount for an auto finance case, reflecting the widespread and high-dollar nature of the harm to consumers.
The agency said it is sending 37,034 checks in this mailing.
The FTC sent the initial refund mailing in this case last November. More than 88% of eligible consumers cashed their checks, resulting in more than $8.8 million returned to consumers, according to officials.
The FTC said it received 391 complaints — about add-ons and other issues — over a several-month period prior to filing a complaint against Napleton, what was the 13th largest dealership group in the country by revenue as of 2020.
However, in a survey of the dealer’s customers over the same time period, officials discovered 83% of respondents — or at least 16,848 customers — indicated they were subject to the dealer’s unlawful practices related to add-ons alone.
“This is consistent with the FTC’s experience, which finds that consumer complaints represent the tip of the iceberg compared to the number of consumers harmed,” the FTC said.
In 2022, FTC actions led to more than $392 million in total refunds to consumers across the country.