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Attorney general orders six-figure payment from dealership after marketing scheme discovered

PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Newberg Ford has been fined more than $107,000 by the Oregon Attorney General's office for a fraulent marketing scheme discovered recently.

On April 7, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced that several Oregon car dealerships in the state would be punished for deceptive marketing practices. An investigation by the AG's office uncovered four dealerships guilty of these practices, including Newberg Ford, Ray Schultens Motors in The Dalles, Sheppard Motors in Eugene and Brad's Chevrolet of Cottage Grove.

All four dealerships were ordered to pay hefty sums to the state, restitution to bilked customers, or both. In the case of Newberg Ford, a six-figure sum must be paid to the state.

"Consumers were mailed colorful and fun advertisements that seemed so easy," Rosenblum said in a release by her office. "Scratch off the ticket or pull back the tab to see if you won! Many of the 'prizes' indicated that you had won hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. But when the consumers went to redeem the prize in the dealership, they quickly learned it was all a ploy to get them in the door. No real money was on the line."

According to the attorney general's investigation, Newberg Ford sent out a promotional mailer lauding its "War of the Prices," which featured a scratch-off game where customers could win a prize by matching three spaces in a row. What they didn't tell the 35,000 recipients of the mailer, however, was that every single scratch-off was a "winner."

Of the 35,000 mailers, 34,997 boasted a three-day, two-night vacation that had far more significant limitations than advertised. One scratch-off was supposed to indicate that the winner received a Ford Fusion, another a 60-inch flatscreen TV, and another a Honda ATV.

The trouble with the mailers was everyone who received it could claim they won the ATV. All of them had the three ATV spaces in a row.

"Despite the different prizes, each 'winning' ticket revealed three '2015 Honda ATV' circles in a row, making it look like each recipient won the ATV when, in reality, the consumer had to bring their scratch-off to the dealership to match up their 'confirmation code' with their prize," the release from Rosenblum's office said. "Each mailer had the intent of luring consumers to the dealership thinking they had won the ATV."

Because of the dealership's engaging in these deceptive practices, Newberg Ford has been ordered to pay $107,396 to the state in three separate payments. For further information on this investigation into Oregon car dealerships, visit www.doj.state.or.us/media-home/news-media-releases/cracks-down-on-deceptive-car-dealership-promotions/.


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