Consumer Alleges Fishers Car Dealership Forged His Signature
FISHERMEN – A Greenfield consumer has filed a lawsuit alleging that a Fishers car dealership forged her signature on documents when she purchased a car.
Jessica Poertner filed a lawsuit against Napleton Kia of Fishers alleging they violated Indiana’s Consumer Deceptive Sales Act and the federal Truth in Lending Act.
When Jessica Poertner drives her Kia Optima around town, she wants to be happy — it’s her first new car.
Instead, she feels like a dark cloud is hanging.
“I didn’t really feel like it was mine,” Poertner said. “I drove everywhere to make payments and I hope it all comes out in the end.”
Poertner says she did a ton of research on cars and dealerships before buying a Kia Optima from Napleton Kia of Fishers on May 1, 2020.
She says that because of COVID-19, the transaction was limited contact and the dealership put his paperwork in the glove compartment.
“I thought I got a good deal, and when I got home I realized I didn’t,” she said.
Jessica says the dealership verbally agreed to an interest rate of 3.25%, but the documents show 3.75%, according to her complaint.
When Jessica looked closer, she saw a signature that isn’t hers.
“My signature was forged,” Poertner said.
Records provided to WRTV Investigates by Poertner’s attorney, Andrew Ault, show Jessica’s actual signature on several documents, but a noticeably different signature on others.
Poertner says she hasn’t used a computer or tablet to digitally sign documents.
She filed a lawsuit on July 1 against Napleton Kia of Fishers, alleging that they forged her signature on several documents and that she did not agree to:
- 3.75% interest rate
- The recovery allowance of $1,000.00
- GAP insurance contract for which she paid $850.00
- Tire and license fees of $1.25 and $15.00, respectively.
- Unidentified payment to “Flagship” of $1,179.00.
- “Documentation Fee” of $199.00
Poertner also says she would never have agreed to a $1,954 service contract with the dealership.
“Napleton Kia isn’t close for me to get an oil change or have my tires rotated,” she said.
Poertner says buying a car also took its toll on him emotionally.
“It affected everything,” Poertner said. ” I am 50 years old. I will never buy a new car again just because of the way I was treated.”
His attorney, Andrew Ault, specializes in auto dealership practices.
“Tampering is not only misleading, it is also a crime,” Ault said. “You can’t sign someone’s name on paper without their permission. She didn’t know she was signing terms that weren’t presented to her.”
Ault says monthly payments of $509 for Poertner’s car are about $85/month higher than they should be because they reflect the higher interest rate and fees she does. did not accept.
“That’s a lot of money for me, interest on a six-year loan,” Poertner said.
The lawsuit alleges the dealership violated the federal Truth in Lending Act and the Indiana Consumer Deceptive Sales Act, and seeks an unspecified amount of damages and restitution from Napleton Kia of Fishers.
“She was misled,” Ault said. “Dealers are expected to be upfront [and] honest. They are not supposed to lie or deceive in any way.”
Jeff Kehl, an attorney at Bryce Downey & Lenkov LLC in Chicago, told WRTV he is representing Napleton Kia in this lawsuit.
“We do not wish to speak about this ongoing lawsuit at this time,” Kehl said in an email to WRTV.
In August, the dealership’s attorney filed a motion stating that when Poertner purchased the car, she agreed to resolve any disputes through arbitration, which is an out-of-court resolution.
In September, a judge allowed Poertner to submit his claim to arbitration. His attorney says they are waiting for the dealership to begin the arbitration process.
The trial is suspended for the time being, according to court records.
Ault says you should never go to a car dealership alone and always bring a witness with you.
“Read carefully and know what you are signing, and be ready to go,” Ault said.
Better Business Bureau tips for visiting a car dealership include:
- Take your time. If you don’t want to make a decision on your first visit, let the dealer know ahead of time. Let them know you want to take it for a test drive and that you will make your decision on a purchase later.
- Take a test drive. This is one of the most important things to do! Drive each model you consider and try to do so in various conditions (driving in traffic, on a highway and on secondary roads). Take a test drive checklist with you to review important car features and verify all functionality. While driving, carefully check the brakes, steering, outward visibility and gear shifting. Turn off the radio and listen to the engine for any noise. Try to parallel park to ensure visibility is good and you can adjust all mirrors as needed. Make sure all dashboard lights are on and the dashboard is easy to read. Test the rear seat for passenger comfort and the trunk for adequate space and easy access to the spare tire. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If someone else regularly drives the car, take them with you to test drive them as well.
- Keep all negotiations separate. Consider questions about financing, service contracts, warranties, trade-ins, or other extras after pricing the car. You can let the dealer know you have a trade-in, to start the appraisal process, but focus on the new car first.
- Determine the price of the car. The price of the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) sticker affixed to the car’s glass is the amount the dealer is looking for and may be around 10-15% more than the dealer paid for the car. Tell the salesperson exactly what car and options you want, and ask for the best price. You may be less likely to get a good price on a more popular car that is becoming scarce. Make sure you discuss all the options you are interested in and that you are clear about any additional costs associated with the options. If the dealer allows it, consider negotiating for a better deal and always get the final figure in writing. Shop around and see if other dealers will give you better prices. Be patient when buying a new car. If the first or second offer is undesirable, you must be able to opt out.
- Decide if you are buying from stock or ordering from the factory. Sometimes you’ll get a better deal for a car that’s already in stock, because the longer a car sits in the lot, the more expensive it is for the dealership. These cars may have expensive options that you neither need nor want. Ask the dealer to remove the option – and reduce the cost – or sell the car to you without charging for the option. Sometimes the best deal will come with ordering a car because it’s a safe sale and the dealership doesn’t have to invest in the car. Discuss all the options to see which works best for you. Factor the time you have to wait for a car from the factory into your decision making.
- Discuss your trade. Once you’ve finalized the price of your new car, move on to discussing trading in your old car. Keeping this negotiation separate from the price of the new car will help you stay focused on the actual price of the new car.
- Ask about warranties and service contracts. Make sure your warranty information is detailed and indicates whether the warranty is full or limited and what is covered, who covers it and for how long. Read all the details about additional service agreements and make sure you understand them before signing anything. If you are considering an extra cost service contract, compare it closely to your warranty to check for duplicates. Unless the service contract offers free scheduled maintenance or other services, it may not be economical to have a service contract while the warranty is in effect. If you decide to purchase a service contract, do some comparison shopping. Purchasing a service contract through an insurance company, for example, can save you money.
BBB Advice on Closing the Deal
- To ask questions. Only sign if you are satisfied with the answers.
- Make sure all blank spaces are filled inthat all verbal promises from the seller are included and that any warranties that come with the car are specified.
- If the seller has agreed to pay for repairs as a condition of purchase, make sure these commitments are in the contract. Get the repair turnaround time in writing and make sure you know who to contact about the work. Remember that repairs on a used vehicle can take longer than expected when parts need to be ordered or warranty repairs need to be approved.
- If you are required to make a deposit, ask if it is refundable, and under what circumstances, and make sure the information is also included in the contract.
- Make sure you get a signed declaration attesting to the mileage at the time of sale. Most state laws require used car dealerships to provide this information in writing to the buyer.
- know your state requirements regarding emissions inspections, child safety, seat belt and airbag requirements, and title transfers.
- Make sure you understand what will happen if you are late with payment and how the seller will communicate with you about it.