7 On Your Side: Lawsuit accuses defunct dealership of consumer fraud

MONMOUTH JUNCTION, New Jersey (WABC) -- For the last year, 7 On Your Side has been busy getting refunds for customers who say a New Jersey car dealer closed up shop and left them high and dry on trade-ins and service contracts.

More and more unhappy clients came forward after our story aired. And now there's a class-action lawsuit. So far we've helped recover more than $40,000 from DCN Hyundai, a defunct dealer now accused in a lawsuit of defrauding customers.

"I kept calling them there was no answer, not until channel 7 stepped in," said Cherita Hall.

7 On Your Side helped her finally get more than $18,000 owed on her trade-in last November.

Another customer, Mark Eastmead, got back $14,000.

Both were customers of DCN Hyundai -- accused by dozens of customers of consumer fraud after they were informed by a warranty administrator it never got their money to activate contracts on hundreds of DCN's accounts when the dealership was owned by Joseph Natale.

We asked him why at a new dealership in Newton.

He walked away and never came back -- but we kept working for former customers from Somerset and Staten Island. Both Howard Kinsbrunner and Karen Ingram are repeat customers of DCN Hyundai and are paying for service contracts to cover potential problems.

Ingram paid $4,000 and Kinsbrunner paid $1,500 for a warranty on his Tucson. The customers' main gripe is that they couldn't reach anyone at DCN.

After our February report, it vowed to start a toll free help line.

"It automatically rings at the dealership and every customer's been dealt with," said DCN's lawyer.

But all that you really hear when you call is, "If you know your party's extension you may dial it now or to dial by name hit star."

There's name no prompt for an operator, no voicemail and then it just disconnects.

Fed up customers have now joined a class action lawsuit against DCN.

Corey Morano is the attorney handling.

In every situation it looks like they kept the money and didn't pay for the warranties, it just seems sloppy, I don't know how they thought they would get away with person after person since you were initially reporting on it," Morano said.

So far 80 victims have joined the lawsuit.

"My hope is every one of these people is made whole," said Morano

7 On Your Side made Karen and Howard whole -- after contacting DCN they were refunded almost $4,000.

DCN'S attorney says he is about file to dismiss the class action suit. He said DCN has resolved every complaint that's been brought to its attention, saying it was the new dealership's responsibility to service warranties.

The new dealership says that's not true. Now they've sued and counter-sued each other.

But after we flagged DCN, it made the customer helpline much more user-friendly.

Anyone who believes they've had a problem with this dealer should contact the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. The DCN Helpline number is 833-826-9515.

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