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Attorney general: Auto Plaza USA in Nicholasville defrauded more than 1,400 customers

Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Fayette Circuit Court again the United Group, aka Auto Plaza USA, in Nicholasville for deceptive business practices.
Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Fayette Circuit Court again the United Group, aka Auto Plaza USA, in Nicholasville for deceptive business practices. WKYT-TV

Auto Plaza USA in Nicholasville engaged in deceptive practices by defrauding more than 1,400 customers, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Fayette Circuit Court.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a press conference at the Better Business Bureau of Central and Eastern Kentucky that between 2012 and 2016 Auto Plaza collected vehicle usage taxes from customers and then falsified documents to avoid making the correct payment to the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

Customers later received delinquent tax notices from the department and were left owing a tax bill that in many cases they had already paid to Auto Plaza, according to the attorney general.

The lawsuit also claims that Auto Plaza charged each customer a $489 fee for preparation of documents and services that were not properly performed.

“Each customer deserves to be made whole,” Beshear said. “The conduct ... is egregious.”

Beshear said that Auto Plaza has not made efforts to address complaints, even after they were brought to the company’s attention.

Beshear’s office is seeking damages including approximately $465,000 in restitution for the customers who incurred additional unpaid usage tax liabilities and $685,000 for customers affected by what it described as a “bogus customer fee.”

Kim Sweazey, BBB’s director of operations, said that car sales complaints are usually in the top two or three spots for consumer calls, but the Auto Plaza case was different: “In over 20 years, I had never seen anything like it.”

Auto Plaza was contacted twice by Herald-Leader reporters seeking comment. In one case, a manager said that the company would have no comment; in a second case, the reporter’s query was sent to a customer service voice mailbox.

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman.

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