Darrell Evans alleges Sunrise Volkswagen of Fort Pierce failed to disclose those fees would be added to his purchase option price when he agreed to lease a new 2019 Atlas. The purchase price was listed as $20,843 plus "official fees" such as tags, taxes and registration, according to the suit, which seeks damages under the federal Consumer Leasing Act and Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Evans went to the dealership in August 2022 to exercise his purchase option and was surprised to learn that he would have to pay two pre-delivery service fees: a $399 "electronic registration filing fee" and a $32 "third-party private tag agency fee," the suit said, labeling them "profit" for the dealership, not official taxes or fees.
In addition, Sunrise Volkswagen charged a $405.61 "lease buyout inspection fee" that wasn't in the lease agreement, the suit filed on July 10 claimed. One result of those fees, it said, was that Evans was forced to pay an "inflated amount of sales tax on the buyout transaction."
Separately, the state attorney general's Consumer Protection Division has an ongoing investigation into complaints that some Florida dealerships charge extra fees beyond the contract price to customers who want to buy their vehicles after the leasing period.
"We have issued a number of subpoenas related to this ongoing investigation," an agency spokesman said.
The agency provided Automotive News with copies of six subpoenas asking for documents from three Lexus, Hyundai and Volkswagen dealerships and from Toyota Motor Credit, Hyundai Capital America and VW Credit Leasing. Sunrise VW was not among those dealerships.
One of Evans' attorneys, Darren Newhart, of Loxahatchee, Fla., said the practice "is systemic throughout Florida. Every dealership we've dealt with does it," he said. "They're not supposed to do it, but they are doing it anyway."
Attorney Josh Feygin of Hollywood, Fla., who also represents Evans, said similar suits by lessees are usually resolved without trial.
"Most of these checks cut for settlements come from insurance companies," he said, adding that dealerships don't seem "to learn their lesson" because they aren't paying the settlements themselves.
Defense attorney Abbigail Webb, of Miami Lakes, Fla., said the dealership had no comment on the case.