HUNTINGTON STATION, Long Island - When Jamey and Gary Meskill first saw the 2016 Ford Explorer, it was bright and shiny on the showroom floor at Huntington Ford Lincoln in Huntington, Long Island.
They made a deal and bought the brand-new vehicle for $44,200 and happily drove it off the lot on November 4 last year. But just a week after the purchase, Jamey Meskill made a strange discovery. She noticed tiny pieces of broken glass underneath the rear seats and in the spare tire's wheel well in the back of the SUV and got suspicious.
"My red flag went off," Gary Meskill said. "Was the window broken? Was the car in an accident? Did something happen to it?"
They asked the dealership for money back, but Gary says that request was denied. The dealership told him it didn't know anything about the damage.
So the Meskills took the car to three different auto body shops to confirm their suspicions.
"It looks like 60 percent of the car was repainted," said Professional Automotive Service's Pat Sorrentino, who has 30 years experience repainting damaged cars. "You can see so much debris in the repaint job, this is not how they come off the line at the factory."
Sorrentino pointed out dirt in the paint and areas where it's easy to see where the paint overspray on the molding and in the door jambs. He also could see where the new paint was rough, not polished and doesn't match the rest of the vehicle.
"The car is less than a month old and already the finish looks like a 10-year-old car," Sorrentino said.
It turns out that in New York, dealerships only have to disclose the damage to customers in writing if the damage is in excess of 5 percent of the MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price).
Sorrentino told us the damage on the Meskill's truck would be between $7,000 and $8,000 to properly repair.
7 On Your Side made a call to Huntington Ford Lincoln, and the dealership's attorney explained that new owners had bought the dealership a week before the Meskills purchased their SUV last November, and no one informed the new owners of the damage to that Explorer.
The dealership apologized and refunded the Meskills the full purchase price of vehicle, close to $45,000.
"Thank you, 7 On Your Side," the relieved car buyer said.
Below is NY State General Business Law regarding the disclosure of damage to new cars.
5.(a)Prior to the sale and delivery of a new motor vehicle, a retail dealer or employee of a retail dealer shall provide written notification to the consumer of any repairs undertaken to repair physical damage with a retail value in excess of five percent of the lesser of the manufacturer's or distributor's suggested retail price performed after shipment from the manufacturer to the dealer, including damage to the vehicle while in transit. This notice requirement shall not apply to identical replacement of stolen or damaged accessories or their components. This dollar amount shall include the cost of the retail charge for parts and labor, at the dealer's stated labor rate.
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