Salesman’s allegations are potentially devastating

Just when you thought that the auto industry was on the mend after numerous scandals rocked it to its core, another potentially devastating scandal is on the horizon, this time involving Ferrari.

A report from The Daily Mail reveals that Florida-based Ferrari salesman Robert “Bud” Root has filed a pair of lawsuits in Florida alleging Ferrari of using a device that was designed to electronically roll back the digital odometers of Ferrari models that go on sale in the pre-owned (or second-hand) market. According to Root’s lawsuit, the practice of rolling back these odometers allows Ferrari owners to sell their Ferraris to unsuspecting buyers at grossly inflated prices.

The device is reportedly called the “Deis Tester, internet” and according to the lawsuit, it has been available since 2010 and has a software program that allows it to reset a Ferrari odometer back to as low as 0 miles. Not only that but Root also alleges that Ferrari headquarters in Maranello is complicit in the activity, even going so far as publishing a written policy manual detailing how the device works and having sole authority on when to actually use the device.

The lawsuit further adds that Ferrari “licenses the equipment, administers the passwords and remote log-in authorisations, electronically uploads and tracks functions through the use of the device - including odometer rollbacks - through aInternet connection, and stores the electronic data.”

As for why Root stepped forward threatening to blow the lid off of the allegedly illegal practice, it appears that the 71-year old salesman reportedly fired after discovering the use of the Deis Tester and implications it could have from a legal standpoint. Root even named one of his clients, retired Sara Lee CEO C. Steve McMillan, and accused him of paying off one of the dealership’s mechanics to roll back the odometer of his Ferrari LaFerrari back to 0 miles so he could sell it a higher price than what the car was supposed to be worth.

For its part, Ferrari of Palm Beach attorney Jason Kairalla issued a statement on behalf of the dealership, saying that it “does not litigate in the newspaper,” before adding its belief that the lawsuit filed by its employee “is wholly without merit and will be vigorously defended in court."

Meanwhile, the Italian automaker has also commented on the allegations, telling Motor Authority that the automaker does not comment on litigation that involves third parties with respect to Ferrari North America and the litigation does not involve Ferrari. The automaker threw in its own caveat, adding that it “reserves” the right to take all appropriate action against any party that has adversely affected its rights.

Continue after the jump to read the full story

Take a deep breath because this could get gruesome for a lot of people involved

In one word: Wow.

That was my initial reaction when I first got wind of the lawsuit, and even after spending hours trying to understand every detail about Robert Root’s lawsuits against a slew of people, I still can’t wrap my head around the potential repercussions if this whole thing blows up.

Can you imagine owning a 2012 Ferrari 458 - Root’s lawsuit says that Ferrari models from 2010 onwards could have been compromised by the Deis Tester - that you thought you got for a good price because it had a ridiculously low mileage? Now saying to yourself, “wait a second…”

See, this isn’t just about Root’s lawsuit anymore. That in itself in another can of worms entirely. I’m speaking from the view of the “unsuspecting buyers” who may have been duped. Granted, Ferrari has yet to admit culpability here, but the seeds of doubt have already been planted among owners who could begin to question the legitimacy of the Ferraris they bought.

To make things worse for the Italian automaker, Root’s lawyer, David Brodie is reportedly preparing a class action lawsuit against Ferrari that would gather all the owners in the U.S. who believe their cars were tampered with. You only need to think of what’s going to happen if the allegations are proven true. At the very least, we could see felony charges in Florida and most other states, and that doesn’t even include what Ferrari is liable for if Root’s allegations that Maranello had final say on when to use the Deis Tester.

However this saga plays out in the coming days, weeks, months, or years, the fact that somebody is accusing Ferrari of deliberately manipulating the digital odometers of its cars to make them look newer than they are is a terrible stink that’s going to take some time to get over. If it’s proven true, you can be sure that we’re going to get a long and messy legal battle with far-reaching consequences for all parties concerned.

It’s not a good look for everybody involved, but I’m afraid that this mess will only get a lot worse in the coming days. Brace yourselves, everyone.

Read our full review on the Ferrari LaFerrari here.

Source: The Daily Mail

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