Miamisburg, OHIO - A well-known auto group in the Miami Valley paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle civil lawsuits.
We are checking court records involving Jeff Schmitt Auto Group.
At least 25 people have sued Jeff Schmitt Auto Group...with complaints ranging from fraud to deceptive acts. They're all represented by one attorney who tells me even more clients want to sue. I also asked owner Jeff Schmitt directly about the allegations and what he wants customers to know.
Stacks of civil lawsuits against Jeff Schmitt Auto Group sit on the desk of Dayton attorney, Ron Burdge.
"The complaints haven't stopped and they seem to be all pretty much the same scenario," said Burdge.
Most of the complaints allege "extra charges" and "unfair and deceptive acts."
Some complaints say they used a practice called the "five finger close" where a sales representative would cover up charges with their hand on documents, which were not agreed upon verbally.
Burdge said the Jeff Schmitt Auto Group has paid more than a half a million dollars to settle civil lawsuits since December of 2012.
"It was a $15,000 car and by the time they got out of there, without knowing what was happening to them, it became a $21,000 car, and it wasn't because of the car, it was because of $6,000 worth of bologna that was added into the deal."
2 News Investigates dug deeper and found 71 complaints filed against Jeff Schmitt Auto with the Attorney Generals office since 2005.
We went straight to the top and asked Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine about them.
Natalie: "If somebody is going to look at that number and see 71, is that a lot or is that a little?"
DeWine: "It depends on the volume of business they are doing. It is certainly not an insignificant number. What we do with those is we have an arrangement with the Better Business Bureau and those are checked out by them."
2 News Investigates checked the Better Business Bureau and found an "A+" rating for Jeff Schmitt Auto Group.
DeWine did not confirm or deny whether his office is investigating Jeff Schmitt Auto Group. This company has a positive rating from the BBB, yet numerous complaints, so we asked DeWine what consumers should do.
"I think the number one rule really is to get any promises in writing. If they are not in writing, they are not enforceable," said DeWine.
2 News Investigates spoke with company owner Jeff Schmitt, who said the lawsuits are only by a handful of people and are wildly out of proportion.
He asked us to use a written statement instead of commenting directly.
"Jeff Schmitt Auto Group is one the largest of dealership groups in the greater Dayton region representing leading auto and truck brands, and both new and pre-owned vehicles.
We are among the largest not only because we represent many of the most popular and successful brands, but also because of our competitive pricing, fair dealing, and strong customer relationships, often cultivated over many years and repeat purchases.
While literally thousands upon thousands of our customers are satisfied with their purchases and terms of purchases, we recognize that, periodically, a very small number of customers may not be satisfied with their purchase or their purchase terms.
We would hope that, when a customer has an issue, they would come to us to seek fair resolution. We also recognize that there are a handful of individuals who prefer to bring a lawsuit hoping to reap financial rewards that are often wildly out of proportion to whatever harm they may feel they have experienced. It is unfortunate that some believe litigation is their opportunity to be rewarded financially and to damage our company. "
Making off with some last minute bargains, shoppers flooded the Dayton Mall Saturday before round two of the storm hits the Miami Valley.
State representatives Mike Henne and Jim Butler spent Saturday morning going door-to-door in a riverside neighborhood.
Christmas comes early for some kids in the region.
Two women were arrested early Saturday morning after leading Dayton and Riverside Police on a slow speed pursuit with a stolen snow plow.
Preble County crews are battling a barn fire this afternoon on Barnetts Mill Road in Camden.