Buyers of autos not told of rental to share $80,000


An Anne Arundel County auto dealership may be required to make restitution to as many as 59 car buyers who were not told the vehicles had been part of a rental fleet, under terms of an agreement announced today with the Maryland attorney general's office.

The agreement, reached with Thacker Oldsmobile-Cadillac in Parole, will provide restitution of $80,000 to the owners of the cars.

The owners were "not advised of the fact that the vehicle had been bought by Thacker through [General Motors] auction program and had been part of a short-term rental fleet," said Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.

Curran said the affected consumers will each be entitled to restitution of a maximum of $2,000 if they can prove that they were not advised the cars once belonged to a rental fleet when they bought the vehicle for their personal use.

The state Motor Vehicle Administration sought to revoke the license of Thacker Oldsmobile-Cadillac last March after an investigation turned up dozens of cases in which Thacker customers were sold cars not knowing they had once belonged to a rental firm.

"A number of consumers also filed complaints with the Consumer Protection Division [of the attorney general's office] asking the division's help to address the problem after learning that they hadn't been told that their cars had previously been used as rental vehicles," Curran said.

The former owner of Thacker Oldsmobile-Cadillac, Joseph Thacker, retired from the automobile business in October and sold his dealership to Fitzgerald Oldsmobile-Cadillac of Kensington.

The MVA's efforts to revoke Thacker's license ceased when he retired, Curran said.

Assistant Attorney General Peter V. Berns, deputy chief of the Consumer Protection Division, said that under terms of the settlement Fitzgerald will guarantee Thacker's payment of $80,000 to the Consumer Protection Division for the creation of a restitution fund.

Claim forms will be mailed to the buyers of the 59 cars that have already been identified as having been owned the rental firm. The consumers will have 21 days from the date the claim form was mailed to return it, along with a written affirmation that they were not advised when they purchased the cars that they had been used by the rental firm.

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