OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Koons Kia dealership of Owings Mills will settle with Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh over claims that the dealership charged consumers hidden fees and collected "freight charges" even though the shipping cost was already included in the advertised vehicle price.
More than $1 million is expected to be returned to consumers as a result of the settlement, announced Frosh's office in a press release.
Consumers who are owed refunds will be contacted directly by the Consumer Protection Division, and do not need to do anything.
Koons Kia also agreed to pay the Consumer Protection Division $100,000 for investigation costs, and will agree to stop charging car purchasers fees, other than taxes or title fees, if the fees weren't included in the advertised vehicle price. It will stop charging consumers for shipping if the charges were already included in the advertised price. The company will also return all fees to consumers, other than taxes and title fees that weren't included in the advertised price.
Frosh said in a statement: “Car dealers must honor the price they advertise for their vehicles. I am glad that Maryland consumers will receive refunds for the fees that they paid above the advertised price.”
Koons responded in a statement:
"Koons Owings Mills KIA has reached a settlement with the Office of the Maryland Attorney General regarding the way that new vehicles were displayed online. The Attorney General alleged that the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that was displayed represented the sales price Koons Kia was offering. We disagree with this allegation. MSRP is a well understood term with its own definition and was clearly disclosed as such. Koons KIA fully disclosed the pricing properly on the window of the vehicle as well as all purchase documents. Nevertheless, we agreed to the settlement to avoid the costs and disruption of litigation and because it requires us to make clearer in our advertising that the MSRP is not the sales price, which Koons KIA fully supports and in our opinion has no impact on our customer or the dealership. As stated in the settlement agreement, we do not admit any wrongdoing, and there has been no finding by any court that we violated the law. The settlement does not provide for any fines or penalties."
Consumers who experience problems with their automobile purchase, or any other consumer transaction, may contact the Attorney General’s Office by calling 410-528-8662 or 888-743-0023, email email@example.com, or file a complaint online at www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov [marylandattorneygeneral.gov].