Tales of unscrupulous car dealers don’t get much more smarmy than this. Los Angeles Times business columnist David Lazarus is out with a piece about a Hyundai dealer in Culver City, Calif., who had several vehicles that customers had dropped off for service towed off his dealer lot when the business shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak. That’s left the vehicle owners facing thousands of dollars in towing and impoundment fees.
That much isn’t in contention. But an unnamed person Lazarus reached at the dealership, Nissani Bros. Hyundai, told him that “fewer than five” cars were towed, and only after the dealer repeatedly tried to contact the owners to retrieve them because the business planned to temporarily shut down. Hyundai Motor America disagrees, saying the dealer never informed the company or the owners themselves about towing the vehicles, and it says it's aware of at least 11 cars that were towed. The head of Hyundai Motor America communications describes a deteriorating business relationship and says Nissani voluntarily ended its affiliation with the brand in April. The dealer is now closed and reportedly fenced off.
Hyundai said it apologizes to the affected owners and pledged “to make this right.”
The Times reported last year that co-owner Hooman Nissani was ordered to pay $2.4 million as part of a settlement over what the state of California said was cheating workers at a car wash he owned out of wages and overtime pay over three years. One affected owner said the towing company that moved her car has told her that a lien had been placed on her vehicle and would be sold if she doesn’t cough up $6,000 in cash to settle towing and accumulated impoundment fees.