Georgia Sues Infamous Bill Heard Dealership

Georgia is suing the super duper shady Bill Heard dealership, whom we wrote about twice in July 2006. This time, the dealership stands to get slapped on the hand for sending out advertising that fraudulently appeared to be recall notices for GM cars, but were actually printed by the state’s biggest car seller in an attempt to scare people into buying new cars. The result of the lawsuit could be a fine of a $5,000 per mailing, up to $50,000,000, reports AJC.com, and a promise to stop deceptive trade practices. It would mark the 16th such promise Bill Heard has made in its 16 years of business.

Court Documents [PDF]
Bill Heard Chevrolet served with state lawsuit [AJC.com] (Thanks to Michael!)
PREVIOUSLY:
UPDATE: Drove My Chevy to the Levy But The Dealer Left Me Dry
Drove My Chevy to the Levy But The Dealer Left Me Dry
(Photo: Review Journal)

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  1. Hawk07 says:

    Ahhhh… Bill Heard.

    That’s what led me to the Consumerist and ended up getting me hooked after they sold a truck to a guy, changed their mind about the selling price, and then towed it back to their lot in the middle of the night.

    Hopefully he got his truck back for the agreed upon price. I really doubt if they had overcharged him $10,000, he would have been so fortunate.

  2. scoobydoo says:

    Actually, the AJC says:

    “The agency’s lawsuit proposes civil fines of $5,000 for each of the mailings, or a theoretical maximum of as much as $50 million. It also seeks a judge’s approval to bring future allegations directly into court, bypassing the administrative process.”

    So, he may end up paying $5000 for EACH of the scam flyers he sent.

  3. Sucko-T says:

    From the article, “The lawsuit is the first filed by the consumer agency against a car dealer since 1975.”

    [www.wheelhack.com]

    Car dealerships get away with murder, they bring in huge amounts of sales tax revenue and are the main advertisers in local newspapers. I know some idiot is going to come on here and defend car dealerships saying “they’re not all like this”. That’s probably true, only 90% of them are.

  4. Smashville says:

    Speaking of updates…the Bill Heard that stole the truck here in
    Nashville…after being “the MidSouth’s Largest Chevy Dealer” is being
    sold…after Channel 5 reported on the guy’s truck being stolen and
    then finding out about editing the loan paperwork, plus sites like this
    one making the story national…their sales dwindled from over 1,000
    cars per month to 3-4 cars per month.

    Here’s the link to the story about the sale:

    [www.newschannel5.com]

  5. Smashville says:

    Also, click the link to the left that says “GONE: Bill Heard Out of
    Business In Nashville” for video on the story…the new owner is giving
    his personal cell phone number to anyone who buys a car from his
    dealership…and fired basically everyone who worked at Bill Heard.

  6. thoughtfix says:

    “about whom we wrote…”

    Need a copy editor? ;)

  7. not_seth_brundle says:

    @thoughtfix: That is a rule up with which I will not put.

  8. nequam says:

    There’s something missing from this story. The suit was started by the dealership and the state responded and filed a claim against the dealership. It appears (from the court documents link) that the dealership initially had filed suit to obtain the state’s records under an open records, freedom-of-info type thing. Does anybody know more about this?

  9. Chicago7 says:

    What ever happened to the Saturn “fixed price” deal? Is that still going on?

    /I haven’t owned a car since 1980.

  10. TWinter says:

    @Chicago7: Saturn still does the fixed rate stuff, but they’ve shifted the rules a bit. It used to be the case that they didn’t have any rebates, discounts or special financing deals, but they do all that stuff now.

  11. myrall says:

    Nequam, what I heard on WSB in Atlanta is that Bill Heard countersued to find out who pointed the finger at them. Heard is sitting on the position that their competition wants to see them go down – so, obviously, it was a competitor that blew the whistle on the mailings. The FIA would tell them who reported Heard to officials. Then, Heard could go after them themselves.

  12. Red_Eye says:

    Doesnt really matter who blew the whistle if what this says is true. If they are trying scare tactics they need to go bye bye.

  13. junkmail says:

    @Smashville:
    A very close friend of mine attempted the same thing with a Heard-like dealership in Lincoln, NE. It’s taken several years to break the stigma attached by the previous owners, but their reputation is finally turning around. My friend recently moved on to another company, but it’s ridiculous the amount of blood, sweat, and tears he had to put into that place just to fix the shady, crooked rep the previous owners had built for themselves.

  14. notwhoyouthink says:

    Scams are a common practice and even real recall notices are treated as sales opportunities. The dealerships get lists of recalls on vehicles sold at their dealership and usually send out their own notices to get people to come in so they can upsell them something while they are there while making money on the recall work. When they do get caught in a scam it is usually just a slap on the wrist…even a 100k fine is a slap on the wrist to a large dealership. I worked in the Automotive industry for both Ford and GM for 15+ years in the Atlanta area and one dealer I worked for got fined 125k for false advertising and the owner said while writing the check that he would run the same add again because they made more than the fine on the ad(he’s dead now…karma is a bitch). As in any industry there are bad and good companies but in the automotive business if you find a good honest salesperson or service adviser stay in touch with them as they are a rare breed.

  15. ord2fra says:

    As long as we’re talking dealerships, after watching a few episodes of “King of Cars”, how could dealers *not* resist the urge to squeeze every dime from some of these clueless people? I always remember the story of a guy that came into the dealer wanting Chrysler 300C with 22″ wheels, and was over $10,000 short on funds and couldn’t be approved by anyone. What would possess someone with a <500 FICO to get into a brand new car with $5000 rims?

    If you negotiate on payments and not price, the dealer will roll you every time. I read somewhere that buying a car is like a pee wee football team playing the Dallas Cowboys. You buy a car once every 3-7 years, they do it all day long.

  16. ord2fra says:

    @junkmail: Was it Misle Chevrolet? I don’t line in Lincoln anymore but I’d love to know the dealer that has turned things around.

  17. junkmail says:

    @ord2fra:
    Heh, well, I wasn’t going to name names, but you’ve obviously heard of the place… ;)

  18. RagManX says:

    Man, I wish I could get some of the money for this. I’m one of the folks who got one of these “recall notice” ads from the Bill Heard here in Memphis. I could tell it was an abusive ad, and coming from Bill Heard made it automagically junkable, but still – would be nice if TN did one of these suits and shared the wealth (and yes, I know it will never happen).