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For Immediate Release
June 8, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH FORD MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY AND FORD AND LINCOLN-MERCURY DEALERS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. today announced that he and 37 other State Attorneys General have reached a settlement with Ford Motor Credit Company and local Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers to resolve allegations that Ford Credit and local dealers misled consumers about the payoff amounts for vehicles leased through Ford Credit’s “Red Carpet Lease” program. Under the settlement, which also includes 29 Maryland Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers, Maryland consumers who were misled are eligible to receive restitution and Maryland will receive over $118,000 for consumer education purposes. 1,114 Maryland consumers will be receiving claim forms in the mail.

The Complaint filed by Curran’s Consumer Protection Division in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City alleges that consumers who contacted Ford Credit to obtain a payoff amount for terminating their leases were directed instead to their local Ford dealers to obtain that information, even though the payoff amount was determined by Ford Credit. When consumers contacted their local dealers, they were often charged more than the actual payoff amount, according to the Complaint.

“ The settlement will ensure that consumers who lease vehicles from Ford and want to terminate their leases are provided with accurate information about the payoff amount.” Curran said.

Consumers who are determined to have been misled about the payoff amount will be eligible for restitution of $100.00 from Ford Credit. More than 150,000 consumers in the 38 settling states who terminated their leases early between 1991 and 1994 will receive a claim form in the mail. Consumers who terminated their leases after 1994 and believe they were not told that the payoff amount included an additional payment to their dealer may obtain a claim form by contacting the settlement administrator at 1-800-221-3312 or accessing the website www.gilardi.com/fordcreditrclagsettlement

The Maryland dealers who are parties to the settlement are Academy Ford Sales; Al Packer Ford, Inc.; Al Packer Lincoln-Mercury, Inc.; Apple Ford, Inc.; Bert Spriggs Motor Sales Inc.; Bob Bell Ford; Bob Davidson Ford, Inc.; Crystal Ford Isuzu Ltd.; Francis Scott Key Lincoln Mercury Inc.; Hill & Sanders Ford; King Hagerstown Motors LLC (Hagerstown Ford); King Lincoln Mercury, Inc.; Koons Ford of Annapolis; Koons Ford of Baltimore; Koons Lincoln Mercury Merkur Inc.; L.P. Safford Inc. t/a Safford Lincoln Mercury; Lanham Ford, Inc. t/a Darcars Ford; Len Stoler, Inc.; Massey, Inc.; Norman Motor Company T/a Koons College Park Ford; Ourisman Ford Co., Inc.; Preston Ford, Inc.; Preston Lincoln Mercury Inc.; Ron Bortnick Ford, Inc.; Sheehy Ford-Marlow Heights; Sherwood of Salisbury Inc. aka Shore Ford Mercury, Inc.; Thompson Lincoln Mercury; Waldorf Ford, Inc.; and Wilson Powell Lincoln-Mercury, Inc. t/a Darcars Lincoln Mercury.

Ford Credit has agreed to change its Red Carpet lease contract language to clearly explain a consumer’s rights when terminating a vehicle lease early. The change involves not only Ford Credit branches but also the practices at the Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers.

In addition to Maryland, the settlement includes Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Under the settlement, Ford Credit and the 1,300 participating Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers in the 38 states will pay over 6.2 million dollars.

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