NewsNewsChannel 5 InvestigatesConsumer Alert


State Fines Auto Dealer For Deceptive Ads

Posted at 8:17 PM, Aug 31, 2015

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - A Clarksville auto dealer has agreed to pay a hefty fine after being caught using unfair and deceptive business practices.

Gary Mathews told NewsChannel 5 Investigates it would change the way he did business after we first exposed what was going on at the dealerships last year. However, that didn't stop the Tennessee Attorney General's Office from launching its own investigation.

"I want my $20,000," Mark Galarza told NewsChannel 5 last year after he got three in a row on a "scratch and match to win" ad sent to him by Gary Mathews Kia in Clarksville.

He also told us how he'd thought he'd hit it big.

"What did you think you'd won?" we asked.

"The $20,000 that it says on the paper," he explained.

But instead of getting the cash, the auto dealer gave him a single lottery ticket.

Because of that, the Gary Mathews North Corporation -- which runs the Gary Mathews Kia, Volkswagen and Select Automotive dealerships, all in Clarksville -- has agreed to pay a $30,000 fine for violating the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.

"I'd think most people would look at that and say I won $20,000," Jeff Hill with the Tennessee Attorney General's Office opined during our original investigation.

The Attorney General's Office went on to file papers in Davidson County Circuit Court calling the marketing campaign "misleading, unfair and/or deceptive" and revealing how its own investigation found Gary Mathews had sent out 50,000 scratch-and-win ads to Clarksville area residents on three separate occasions in 2013 and 2014. Winners were told they had to come in to claim their prize.

"The guy actually blinked at me, you know, kind of winked at me and said it's just a way to get people in here," Galarza described.

The settlement agreement between Gary Mathews and the state has four pages of rules the dealerships must now follow in their advertising and marketing.

The attorney general wanted to make sure it doesn't hear any more stories like Mark Galarza's.

"The way I read it 50 times, you know, I had won $20,000," Galarza said.

After our original investigation, Gary Mathews told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that it probably would do away with the scratch-and-win type mailers.

To see all of the documents filed in the court case, click here.