• Jan 18, 2007

CarFax is becoming an increasingly popular tool used by both buyers and sellers of vehicles as a way to verify a vehicle's history. Unfortunately, the internet-based service outfit has had to settle a class-action lawsuit that accuses the company of misleading customers into thinking that its reports contain more information than they really do. Despite the settlement, CarFax admits to no wrongdoing.

If you purchased a CarFax vehicle report anytime before October 27, 2006, you now have to decide weather or not you want to take advantage of the settlement offer from CarFax. It is offering eligible customers either free or reduced price reports or $20 towards a vehicle inspection at a technician of their choice.

Read the entire settlement letter after the jump

[Source: Consumer Reports]



NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT

West v. Carfax, Inc., No. 04-CV-1898
Court of Common Pleas, Trumbull County, Ohio
161 High Street, NW, Warren, Ohio 44481-1006

IF YOU HAVE PURCHASED A CARFAX VEHICLE HISTORY REPORT FROM CARFAX PLEASE NOTE THAT A SETTLEMENT OF VARIOUS LEGAL CLAIMS RELATING TO SUCH PURCHASES HAS BEEN PROPOSED IN THIS CLASS ACTION. THE SETTLEMENT MAY AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS.

WHAT IS THIS CASE ABOUT?
Plaintiff claims that Carfax violated the consumer protection laws of all fifty states by not properly disclosing terms and conditions for, and limitations of, Carfax Vehicle History Reports. Carfax denies all of Plaintiff's claims of wrongdoing.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M A MEMBER OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS?
If you purchased a Carfax Vehicle History Report directly from Carfax at any time before October 27, 2006, you're a Class Member for purposes of this settlement.

WHAT DO I GET IF I REMAIN IN THE SETTLEMENT?
Class Members who remain in the settlement can claim a Voucher good for $20.00 off a vehicle inspection by a designated third party within six months of final approval of the settlement, a Voucher good for two free Carfax Vehicle History Reports from Carfax within one year of final approval of the settlement, a Voucher for one free Carfax Vehicle History Report from Carfax within two years of final approval of the settlement, or a Voucher for 50% off an unlimited number of Carfax Vehicle History Reports (for personal, not commercial use) over 30 consecutive days within three years of final approval of the settlement. The Court will also order Carfax to make certain changes in its disclosures and contracting process with customers.

HOW DO I CLAIM A VOUCHER?
To claim a Voucher, you must fill out a claim form and return it to the Settlement Administrator so that it is postmarked no later than May 27, 2007. Claim forms are available at www.WestCarSettlement.com or by contacting the Settlement Administrator at:
West v. Carfax, Inc. Settlement
Settlement Administrator
PO Box 91190
Seattle, WA 98111-9290
1-(888) 257-8216

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT ME?
On April 27, 2007, at 1:00 pm, Judge Andrew D. Logan will hold a hearing at the courthouse at
161 High Street, NW, Warren, Ohio decide whether to approve this settlement. If he approves
the settlement, all Class Members will be bound by the resulting judgment and court orders, and
eligible Class Members will be entitled to claim benefits under the settlement. IF YOU DON'T
OPT OUT OF THE SETTLEMENT AND IT IS APPROVED, YOU WILL FOREVER
RELEASE ANY RIGHTS YOU HAVE TO SUE CARFAX OR ITS RELATED ENTITIES
FOR ANYTHING RELATED TO THE FACTS OR CLAIMS COVERED IN THE
SETTLEMENT.

HOW DO I OPT OUT OR OBJECT?
If you're a Class Member and want to opt out of this settlement, you must do so in writing by
March 13, 2007. You must provide your full name and address, state that you want to opt out of
the Carfax settlement in West v. Carfax, Inc., No. 04-CV-1898, and deliver your request by mail,
hand or overnight delivery service to the Settlement Administrator so that it is received on or
before March 13, 2007. If you want to object to this settlement, you must do so in writing by
March 27, 2007. You must provide your full name and address, include all arguments, citations,
and evidence supporting your objection, specify who, if anyone, will attend the hearing to speak
for your objection, deliver your objection both to Class Counsel and to Defendants' Counsel by
mail, hand or overnight delivery service so that it is received on or before March 27, 2007, and
file at the same time a copy of your objection with the Clerk of Court in Warren, Ohio.

WHO REPRESENTS THE CLASS?
Plaintiff Edward B. West represents the Class. The lead Class Counsel is William B. Federman
of Federman & Sherwood, 120 North Robinson, Suite 2720, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102.
Local Ohio counsel is Curtis J. Ambrosey of Ambrosey & Fredericka, 144 North Park Avenue,
Suite 200, Warren, Ohio 44481. You will not pay their attorneys' fees and costs. The Court may
award them and their co-counsel attorneys' fees and costs. Carfax has agreed that it will pay up
to $566,000 in such fees and costs if awarded by the Court. Defendants are represented by
Christopher M. Mason of Nixon Peabody LLP, 437 Madison Avenue, New York, New York
10022. Local Ohio counsel is Hugh E. McKay of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, 925
Euclid Avenue, Suite 1700, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.

WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?
IF YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION, VISIT www.WestCarSettlement.com or contact the
Settlement Administrator at West v. Carfax, Inc. Settlement, Settlement Administrator, PO Box
91190, Seattle, WA 98111-9290, 1-(888) 257-8216. If you have further questions, you may
write to Class Counsel c/o William B. Federman, Federman & Sherwood, 120 North Robinson,
Suite 2720, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102. DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT FOR
INFORMATION.

No response to this email is necessary. For additional information about the settlement, visit www.WestCarSettlement.com. This notice does not mean that the Court has made any decision as to how it would rule on the claims or defenses asserted by any party. This notice is not intended to be, and should not be considered as, an expression of any opinion by the Court with respect to the truth of the
allegations or the strength of the claims or defenses asserted in the case.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      the worst part about all of this is that the information from Carfax is only as accurate is what they are provided with, or what they provide you. one little change in a VIN number, and it's a different car.

      I had a friend that was interested in a used Dodge pickup he had seen advertised in a local newspaper. he ran a Carfax on it, and it had warnings plastered everywhere. it had been in an accident, the mileage was suspect, and it had come to Arizona from Colorado. he was ready to walk away.

      I went down to a local Dodge dealer, and had them run the VIN internally thru the Chrysler computer.

      what a different story!

      this two year old, 8,000 mile pickup had been sold new in Phoenix to it's 80 year-old-owner, and had never been out of the Phoenix area. a little different story than what was provided by Carfax.

      the Reatta convertible in New Jersey I mentioned in a previous post was involved in an accident six months after it was repainted. the insurance company totalled it.

      of course, to this day, neither the accident or it's being totalled shows on Carfax. the repainting does, but not a real accident. go figure.

      Mike
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have used CarFax a few times, and once decided NOT to buy a car I was looking at, because of their report on it. That said, the times I have used them left me with the impression that AZMike's experiences are probably the norm for CarFax.

      Now, I take the report with "a grain of salt". That is, I look for a car with no or minimal damage and use CarFax as a sort of "backup" to what the seller says about the car I am looking at. They shouldn't be used as a guarantee/warranty of a car's condition, and unfortunately, it probably isn't too hard to "fool" them, either.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "You can't fix stupid"
      "Here's your sign"

      Anyone stupid enough to believe they can tell you everything is just that, stupid.

      Want to know how you can get a washed title past them? How you can hide a damage disclaimer?

      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm not a lawyer, but generally a company will settle for two reasons. One, not to drag their name through the mud of further litigation, and two, so they don't have to admit any wrongdoing. A bad court judgement would essentially be stating that the company was involved in some wrongdoing.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I understand what they mean. I've looked up numerous cars on carfax in the past and when you do the initial lookup of the car it'll say something like "there are three reports on this vehicle" which will lead one to believe there is something wrong with the car. Only after paying for the full report do you realize that a lot of the stuff they have listed is worthless. Getting a carfax report can be very valuable, but many times they do mislead you into thinking there is something wrong with the car just to get you to buy the report.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In my personal experience, CarFax is useful - but its ability to find past accident damage is overblown.

      A friend had a CarFax subscription - so I ran most every car I could find through it several years ago. I even read VINs off of cars I walked by in the parking lot into work, just to get a decent distribution. Friends cars; my own cars; cars I didn't own anymore.

      Not ONE showed up with ANY accident damage repair - even cars I knew had collision work done at a regular dealership in the past.

      Out of sheer frustration, I combed eBay auctions for VINs - and came up with the same results. It wasn't until I specifically searched for eBay auctions with salvage titles did I come up with anything particularly interesting with CarFax (yeah, CarFax will find salvage titles).

      CarFax can give you some useful data points (dates/locations when registered, etc.), but that's about it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Carfax is a total waste of time. I sell parts for Buick Reattas for a living, and used to run every car that I bought, usually about 50 per year.

      after the first three years, I stopped and realized that about 60% of the reports were completely inaccurate.

      I remember one car I bought in the Napa Valley (CA). it was a one owner car, that was originally purchased in Sacramento, California. the Carfax showed it being originally purchased in the Boston area, and scrapped in 1992!

      after three years of wasting my time any money with Carfax, I put together a list of 127 cars that I had bought and found that 81 of them had very inaccurate information. I'm not talking about a few missed years here, but showing vehicles being from states they had never been registered in.

      another thing Carfax does is report work done at a body shop as an accident. for example, Carfax pays body shops $100 to report any work they do on a car. I had a customer in New Jersey who took his car in to be repainted, and the body shop had Carfax list the $4,000 paint job as damage. the really sad thing here is that so many people take a Carfax as gospel truth, and it's far from it.

      after I found out the truth, I sent Carfax a detailed twenty page letter, listing all the inaccuracies I found, and backed up by documentation (including registrations) from the previous owners, including all the VIN numbers.

      I never heard a word from them.

      caveat emptor, folks.

      Mike
      • 8 Years Ago
      1. Settlements like these don't benefit anyone but the lawyers, who get a percentage (in cash) of the payout. $20 x thousands of users. The sad sack that got shafted in the first place wins a $20 store credit for something that failed them once already. Laywers suck.

      2. Carfax is worth it if you don't know how to look over a used car because the presence of a warning means something IS wrong. But the absence of a warning doesn't mean the car is clean. Got it?
      • 8 Years Ago
      just for fun, during one of the free car fax deals that come up time to time, i looked up my previous car, which was in an accident needing $7000 worth of repair that was reported and paid for by the insurance company. guess what, the car fax report stated "no accident."