GM Threatened to Cut Ties with Bill Heard - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: The Inside Story

GM Threatened to Cut Ties with Bill Heard

From Jennifer Kraus and Phil Williams:

Bill Heard Chevrolet, it turns out, almost lost its franchise license from General Motors.

The Columbus, Georgia-based company -- which bills its as the "World's Largest Chevy dealer" and who until recently had a Chevy dealership in Antioch -- was sued a week ago by the state of Georgia for deceptive advertising.

It was the first time the state has sued an auto dealer in its 32-year history.

Georgia consumer officials claim in the $50 million lawsuit that Bill Heard sent out fake recall notices to 10,000 customers last year in an attempt to sell them new cars or new service agreements.

In fact, GM first learned of the allegations last year and sent a threatening letter to the Bill Heard Enterprises.

"These notices are designed and have the effect of creating the impression that there has been a recall of the recipients' Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, Saturn, GMC and Pontiac vehicles," GM wrote.

"Additionally, these notices suggest to the recipients that their vehicles are potentially unsafe.  These notices and statements sent by Dealer are false."

GM goes on to say that the notices are "an impermissible way to solicit warranty and recall repairs." (The letter is filed as an attachment to the Georgia lawsuit.)

Of course, the Bill Heard Chevy dealership in Nashville had its own share of problems.

A NewsChannel 5 investigation exposed questionable sales tactics and business practices, including claims by former managers that dealership employees routinely changed customers' loan applications to help them qualify for loans.

Our investigation prompted both the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and the Attorney General's Office to launch their own investigations which are ongoing.

Following our investigation, the dealership's profits reportedly plummeted and never picked back up. 

Three weeks ago, Heard Enterprises finally sold the dealership and moved its business out of Nashville.

The company still has dealerships in six other states as well as a dealership in the Memphis-suburb of Collierville.

But Tennessee and Georgia are not the only states where Bill Heard is under fire.

In Florida, the attorney general is also investigating allegations of deceptive advertising against the company.

State regulators in Texas are also keeping a watchful eye on the company's business practices.

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