Bellavia Blatt Announces Class Action Lawsuit Against Autotrader.com
Bellavia Blatt & Crossett, P.C. ("Bellavia Blatt"), a law firm that represents thousands of franchised automobile dealerships, has announced that, on June 29, 2016, it commenced a class-action lawsuit against online motor vehicle advertiser Autotrader.com. The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in Atlanta, Georgia, based upon a forum choice clause in Autotrader's contracts.
The plaintiff in the case, B&Z Auto Enterprises-the owner and operator of an automobile dealership group located in Bronx, New York-alleges that, during a five-year period from June 2010 until June 2015, Autotrader greatly misrepresented the advertising reach being achieved by auto dealers who subscribed to Autotrader's online advertising services. The complaint alleges that Autotrader over-reported the web page views received by dealers, and other performance metrics, for the purposes of inducing dealers to become Autotrader customers, to remain as customers, and with the goal of upselling premium services to existing customers. In addition, the complaint alleges that Autotrader was able to artificially inflate the rates paid by dealers based upon Autotrader's misrepresented advertising performance metrics.
"Autotrader's representatives advertise in sales presentations to dealer principals that their website provides a certain number of page views of a dealer's vehicles offered for sale," said Leonard Bellavia, founding partner of the law firm Bellavia Blatt & Crossett. "Every month thereafter, Autotrader provides each dealer a 'scorecard' and other reports that state the number of times the dealer's vehicles were viewed ... We assert that the number of page views that Autotrader claimed B&Z Auto and other dealers were receiving was inflated by 50% to 100% or more on an ongoing basis throughout the five-year class period."
The class-action complaint alleges that Autotrader's over-reporting of web page views occurred nationwide, and was based on an improperly programmed software counting system and an automated data reporting program, which Autotrader had knowledge of but nonetheless continued to misrepresent the dealers' results.