After odometer incident

Dealer boosts ‘truth in used cars’

Urges “Title Law”

Somehow you would think that Ernie Boch would want to eliminate the word ‘odometer” from his vocabulary.

A few weeks ago Boch had to make a court appearance on a charge that a car was found on the used car lot of Boch Motors in Norwood with an odometer turned back.

The odometer is the indicator on the speedometer that shows how many miles a car has gone. To tamper with it is illegal in Massachusetts.

Boch says he was a victim of circumstances. But instead of shunning talk about odometers he feels that his problem with them could trigger a whole new truth – in – used – car – sales drive in the Bay State.

The peppery Boch has instituted his own “title law.” He hopes he will cause enough static with his program that other dealers selling used cars will follow suit thus bringing everyone back to an even footing.

At the same time, Boch has joined with consumer groups and law enforcement agencies — the latter are interested because of its anti-theft aspects—in urging the Massachusetts Legislature to enact a title law for motor vehicles just as 43 other states have done.

Bob said that his self-imposed “title – law” amounts to “full disclosure” to the prospective purchaser as to the amount of miles a used car has gone. Every car in Boch’s spacious used car lot on Rte. 1, Norwood, now carries a sticker which bears in bold print the name and address of the previous owner.

After Boch made his announcement, we checked early this week posing as an interested used ear purchaser. We found some pretty high mileage cars on the lot, jotted them down, and called the people whose names were on the stickers.

There was a Waltham man who said that he had turned in a ‘66 Buick Skylark with 57,568 miles on it and insisted upon telling us everything about the car and why he traded it.

A Quincy man with 44,585 on his car did much the same thing while a man from Dedham had rolled up 69,318 miles on a ‘67 Dodge Dart. Much lower was a four-year-old Ford Galaxie of a Holliston family, with 38,353.

None of the people called seemed to object to being queried. Most were happy to answer questions about their old cars.

Some of the jazzier cars with the lower mileage on them said they were formerly owned by Hertz or other car rental and leasing firms.

“We are going to have to educate customers to the worth of a car with high mileage,” said Boch. “Even with 70,000 miles on it a car that is sound can give a lot more miles of driving for a few hundred dollars.”

“The day when a dealer can spin back an odometer and expect to get away with it is over,” said Boch. “They all might as well recognize that full-disclosure sales are the only way to do business.

“In the end look what good it does. It will restore the confidence of the customer who wants to buy a used car. It will make odometer readings meaningful once again,” he said.

Boch’s new program came about after he talked at length with Dr. Edward R. Willett, head of the Massachusetts Consumers Council, the organization that has helped bring odometer proceedings against Boch and other auto dealers.

Dermot Shea, executive director of the state agency said last week that his group “cannot endorse any types of advertising,” but said that the techniques now being used by Boch are “advantageous to the consumer.”

Boch explains that the incident that brought him into court happened when a man bought a new car, “one of the last off the line before a strike.”

“He had a lot of aggravation with the car and one of the times he brought it back he found his old car on the lot. He looked at the car and found the odometer had been changed.

“We didn’t change it here. We had let a Rhode Island wholesaler attempt to sell the car. He changed the reading. When he failed to sell it he brought it back.

Boch said that in order to protect himself every car brought into the two Boch centers for sale carries the signature of the prior owner with the proper mileage reading.

Sun, Mar 22, 1970 – The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts)

By Barry Cadigan Globe Staff


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