Feds: Napleton car dealer charged hidden fees, hiked rates for Black customers | Local Business


ST. PETERS — Napleton Automotive Group, an auto dealership chain, will pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit alleging shady business practices, the Federal Trade Commission said Friday.

The lawsuit named eight of the company’s 51 dealerships, including one location in St. Peters. It alleged that dealerships charged customers hidden fees for unwanted add-on products such as payment insurance and paint protection. It claimed the dealerships would add the fees into lengthy purchasing contracts at the end of negotiations, even when customers had specifically declined the add-ons.

It also claimed the dealerships charged Black customers higher financing fees and interest rates than white customers.

The dealerships charged Black customers about $99 more for add-ons and $190 more for financing, the lawsuit claimed.

Tilden Katz, a spokesperson for Napleton, said in an email Friday that the company vehemently denies any wrongdoing but settled the case to avoid disruptions to the business.

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“We have taken steps to implement additional safeguards to ensure full transparency to our customers,” Katz said. “We intend to continue to build on the trust we have worked so hard to create with the consuming public and look forward to establishing new relationships with generations of satisfied customers to come.”

The lawsuit was filed by the FTC and the state of Illinois. The company is based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. The dealerships named in the suit included locations in Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri.

The St. Peters dealership named in the case was Napleton’s Mid Rivers Imports Inc., also doing business as Napleton’s Mid Rivers Kia.

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