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Yo-Yo Sales Costing Maryland Carbuyers

PHOTO: The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition says car buyers in the state are falling victim to yo-yo sales and other deceptive practices.
PHOTO: The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition says car buyers in the state are falling victim to yo-yo sales and other deceptive practices.
June 4, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland car buyers are getting bilked out of a lot of money by unscrupulous dealers, according to a new report from the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition. The group is researching auto sales fraud, and finds auto dealers in the state are engaging in deceptive practices and facing few consequences.

One example of what goes on is called a yo-yo sale: a buyer takes a car home believing he has a good deal, only to have the dealer demand days or weeks later that the buyer pay a higher interest rate or make a larger down payment to keep the car. According to the MCRC, such bait-and-switch deals have cost Maryland consumers more than a quarter million dollars since 2008.

Marceline White,the Coalition's president, said such tricks are unique to the auto business.

"There's no other product where you basically walk out of the store with it, and then you're called back in to renegotiate the deal. It doesn't make any logical sense."

Yo-yo sales violate state regulations, but White said dealers are getting away with it. She said that in 2011 and 2012, the state fined just a third of the dealers cited in yo-yo sale complaints.

White declared that the practice hurts all types of car buyers.

"And this happens across economic lines, and across geographic lines, everything," she said. "We've had people have problems with $40,000 cars and $3,000 cars."

White is calling on the state to give consumers a right to cancel car deals within three days or require dealers to refund down payments made under conditional sales.

A link to that report is at MarylandConsumers.org.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD