Monday, February 17, 2014

How to File a Car Dealer Complaint With the Florida Attorney General

Some of my regular readers will recall that I testified before the Florida Senate Commerce Committee a few years ago. My purpose was to introduce legislation to make the dealer fee illegal in Florida. The bill never got out of the senate committee because it was “shot down” by the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, FADA, which is referred to as and pronounced fah-dah.  For those who don’t already know, FADA is a powerful lobby for the car dealers. They have a lot of money because car dealers make a lot of money and can donate a lot of money to their political action committees, PAC’s. In full disclosure, I have donated to FADA political action committees in the past and continue to do so. That’s because they protect car dealers against harmful action by the auto manufacturers, but I abhor the way FADA protects car dealers that advertise and sell cars in deceptive, unethical, and even illegal ways.

A big reason that I was defeated in that effort was that the attorneys at the hearing representing the Florida Attorney General (AG) told the panel of senators that they received relatively few complaints on car dealers charging dealer fees. In fact, they received many more complaints on other businesses like storm shutter installers and paving contractors. The AG lawyers said they had to focus their limited resources on those businesses that had the most number of complaints. Of course, the lawyers from FADA completely concurred with that excuse.

Hence, I’m writing this article on “How to file a car dealer complaint with the Florida Attorney General”. There’s no question in my mind that most car owners in south Florida have a “beef” with a car dealer that they bought, leased, or serviced their car with. In fact, it’s not just south Florida, it’s the entire country. The Gallup organization conducts a national poll every year asking us which businesses we consider the most honest and ethical. Car dealers finish last almost every year (Congressmen are usually next to last).

I’m not sure why more victims of car dealers don’t file complaints with the regulatory agencies. I do know why car dealers do not receive as much negative publicity as they deserve and that’s because the local media is afraid of them. Car dealers are the largest local advertisers and they spend a huge amount of money on advertising that newspapers and TV and radio stations rely on. You may know that car dealers banded together to force Seaview Radio (WSVU in North Palm Beach) to cancel my consumer advocate show, Earl Stewart on Cars, which had been on the air for 7 years. They told the owners and management of Seaview that they would not advertise unless my show was canceled. Perhaps it’s the lack of reporting by our local media on how car dealers deceive car buyers with their advertising and sales practices that makes for so few complaints being filed.
If everyone who reads this column/blog who has been wronged by a car dealer will take the time to file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s office, I’m confident that we will see some immediate action. Because of my role as an advocate for car buyers, I hear from dozens of victims of car dealers every month. If those same people would also file a complaint, car dealers would rise on the priority list of companies that are ripping of Florida consumers so that the AG would be able to allocate their limited resources to control and curtail unethical, deceptive, and illegal advertising and sales practices by car dealers.

Please click on this link, and file a complaint. You may also call the Office of Citizen Services at 850 414-3990 or the Fraud Hotline at 866 966-7226. I know you’ve complained to your friends and neighbors and maybe even to me. But now it’s time to complain to somebody who can stop these car dealers from taking advantage of you.


  1. Earl you are really talented at skewing the truth to make you look like a martyr. The dealers did not band together to get you off Seaview. Management there decided to cancel you because you were using the airwaves to slam other dealers. And yes, some of those slammed dealers were advertisers on that station..Do you blame them for canceling their advertising with them? Isn't it funny how many times the newspapers rejected running your ads or facebook shutting you down. I think it is time to put the red phone down and pick up a mirror!

  2. Dear "Anonymous",

    My first comment is that you chose to remain anonymous in your response. This always raises the question in my mind as to why? My guess is that you are a car dealer, employee of a car dealer, or an employee of Seaview Radio.

    Let me address your allegations one at a time:

    (1) Allegation. "The dealers did not band together to get you off Seaview. Management there decided to cancel you because you were using the airwaves to slam other dealers."

    Answer: Chet Tart, the general manager of Seaview told me, in person, that Seaview canceled my and Nancy's show because of threats by car dealers not to advertise on their station. Ed Morse Honda was specifically cited. Chet Tart, to my knowledge, has never denied this and I will take a polygraph to confirm this if Chet Tart will do likewise.

    (2) Allegation. "Some of those slammed dealers were advertisers on that station..Do you blame them for canceling their advertising with them?"

    Answer: Dealers complained to Seaview radio for SEVEN years, which is how long I was on the air. Never once did a car dealer sue me for slander. The reason is that "THE TRUTH IS THE PERFECT DEFENSE AGAINST SLANDER". Yes, I did "slam" car dealers on my show every week for 7 years. I slammed them because they cheated, lied to, and deceived their customers. Many of them are breaking the law on a regular basis.

    (3) Allegation: "Isn't it funny how many times the newspapers rejected running your ads or Facebook shutting you down."

    The largest single advertisers in local newspapers are the car dealers. The newspapers are afraid to print my column and sometimes my advertising for the same reason Seaview radio caved in, A publisher of the Palm Beach Post and reporters for the PB Post have confirmed this to me "off the record" on many occasions. I have never been censored or "shut down" by Facebook.

    You either have no idea what you're talking about or you're a liar. I dare you to shed your "cloak of anonymity", identify yourself, and call me or meet with me personally. My cell phone number is 561 358-1474 and my address is 1215 North US-1 North Palm Beach, FL.

    Mr. Anonymous…MAN UP OR SHUT UP!

  3. Good for u Earl, I raised hell and got those fees waived. I was walking just like u said "Leave" thanks again :)

  4. Congratulations! You are member of a rapidly growing group of educated consumers that will be the "death knell" of car dealers that refuse to change with the times.

  5. Oh I made sure I let all my friends know about it!


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