News and HeadlinesIndianapolis Local News

Actions

Another central Indy car dealership accused of unfair document fees, could mean reimbursement for customers

Posted at 7:15 AM, Jan 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-31 07:15:46-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Earlier this month, more than 170,000 Hoosiers received a check in the mail from auto doc fee litigation.

When we looked into it, we found it was from a settled class action lawsuit accusing a dozen car dealerships of charging unfair document fees.

Now we’ve learned another dealership group is being accused of the same thing.

Hubler dealerships are currently fighting claims they charged unfair fees to their customers.

Attorneys at Cohen and Malad, LLP are representing a plaintiff who sued Hubler in a class action lawsuit a few years ago for charging what they argue are unfair documentation fees.

These “doc fees” are usually added during a sale to reimburse the dealer for all the paperwork you go through when buying a car.

The fee is legal in the state of Indiana but Irwin Levin with Cohen and Malad says they believe the fees shouldn’t exist at all.

“The auto dealers association went to the legislature and got a law passed that said anything over $200 is illegal, is unfair, OK? But where they messed up was, they didn't put in the statute that anything under $200.00 is fair. So now it's a question for a jury as to whether under $200 is fair,” Levin said, “we live in a computerized age you know the cost of preparing those documents is just minimal.”

In a statement, an attorney representing the Hubler dealerships said that state law allows for an increase in document fees because of inflation and it should now be legal for dealerships to charge more than $250 in document fees, but Hubler dealerships still charge less than 200.

The statement goes on to say “The Hubler dealerships strive for customer excellence. To the extent any individual customer feels they did not have an exceptional car-buying experience, including any doc fee charged, we encourage them to contact their Hubler dealership.”

The lawsuit is not resolved, and it could take quite some time for a resolution.

In the meantime, if you are buying a car make sure you review the contract.

According to nerd wallet the contract will include the agreed-on sales price and these additional figures.

  • The state sales tax
  • Registration fees if the dealership does that for you
  • And the documentation fee—some dealerships across the country can charge as much as 700 dollars.

Nerd Wallet also says there could be other fees. If the finance manager can’t explain the fee to your satisfaction ask to have it removed.

Read the full statement from Hubler's representation and the lawsuit below:

The car business is a heavily regulated industry. The Hubler dealership defendants have always taken affirmative steps to follow those regulations, attorney general communications, and trade association guidance and they have done so with respect to the documentary fee (“Doc Fee”). In fact, any Doc Fee charged to a customer of a Huber dealership defendant is among the lower amounts charged by dealerships across the country.

With regard to the statutory framework for the Doc Fee, Indiana legislators changed the law back to 2013 to limit dealerships to a Doc Fee charge of $200. The amended law provides an annual Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) increase. When applying the CPI increase, we contend today that it is lawful for dealerships to charge more than $250. The Hubler dealerships, however, still charge less than $200.

With regard to the complaint against the Hubler dealership defendants, they have not charged any customer over $200 let alone the current limit. This is an undisputed fact.

Customer satisfaction is a primary goal of the Hubler dealership defendants. Hubler Chevrolet has been in business since 1961 while certain other Hubler dealership defendants have been in business since the mid 1980’s. The Hubler dealerships strive for customer excellence. To the extent any individual customer feels they did not have an exceptional car-buying experience, including any Doc Fee charged, we encourage them to contact their Hubler dealership.

Hubler