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Billboard Seeks to Name and Shame in Arbitration Case

A disgruntled Mossy Toyota customer featured in a VOSD investigation of private arbitration has taken things up a notch.

Jon Perz, the disgruntled Mossy Toyota customer who has become an outspoken critic of private arbitration as a means of settling consumer complaints, has taken his feud with the car dealership to a new level.

Perz and the activist group Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety had a billboard erected Monday morning on Mossy’s own used car lot.

It features a picture of a lemon on wheels, the word “Yikes” and the web address “Usedcarnightmare.org,” a website that describes Perz’s six-year fight with Mossy Toyota and includes a YouTube video detailing the defects that Perz claims were present in a vehicle he bought from Mossy in 2006.

We outlined Perz’s fight with Mossy in this story. Here’s a snippet:

Perz said he took the car back to the dealership another two times, and tried to negotiate with Mossy repeatedly over the next few weeks. “They basically laughed in my face,” he said.

Perz said an independent expert he hired concluded the car had probably been submerged in water, causing the electrics to fail and rotting the vehicle’s frame with rust. Perz decided he couldn’t in good faith sell it to recoup his money. So he hired a lawyer.

That’s when he learned that he couldn’t take Mossy to court.

“My lawyer said I had to go to to arbitration,” Perz said. “I didn’t know even what that was.”

It was the first time he had heard the word, but arbitration was about to become a big part of Perz’s life. He had signed a contract that included a section known as a “mandatory arbitration clause,” meaning he had essentially waived his right to sue Mossy.

Perz says he’s spent the last six years trying to get a fair hearing in court. Mossy’s attorney says Perz is on a crusade against arbitration, and isn’t interested in having his case tried in a fair arbitration setting, which is why he and his attorney have fought to keep the case from coming to a hearing.

Rosemary Shahan, president of Sacramento-based CARS, said her group has been advocating for Perz for a long time.

“He’s just such a nice guy,” Shahan said. “You’ve just got to like him. He’s been so decent about this whole thing. Most people would’ve just taken the car somewhere else and sold it off, but he’s not like that.”

Shahan said Perz spotted the billboard and mentioned it to her, suggesting jokingly that he should put up a billboard warning other customers about the dealership. She thought it was a good idea and looked into it.

As soon as the billboard became free, CARS booked it, she said.

Shahan wouldn’t say how long the billboard will stay up.

She said the dealership hasn’t yet contacted her or Perz to make any sort of offer, and said she didn’t expect it to.

“When we first made the video I thought that was it, that they would be in touch, but they didn’t call,” Shahan said. “It’s kind of astonishing to me.”

Mossy’s attorney, Richard J. Ritchie hadn’t heard about the billboard when I called him Monday morning.

He declined to comment.

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