Hooman Nissani, one of Southern California's most prominent car dealers, responded to my column last week about him towing away people's cars amid the COVID-19 pandemic by insisting he's gotten a bad rap.
He said that "while one unhappy customer is one too many," the people I interviewed and the many others who have posted complaints online "constitute a small percentage of the customers we have served."
"We have a good reputation with our customers," Nissani told me.
Former employees of his dealerships tell a different story.
They say the company routinely engaged in questionable practices, including not paying off loans for trade-in vehicles in the time required by the state and failing to install extra features that customers paid for, such as special coating to protect paint.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer told me his office has joined other law-enforcement agencies in investigating Nissani.
"We take these allegations very seriously," he said. "We have already been in touch with our justice system partners about this business and its practices. We can't comment further on this pending investigation right now."
Feuer declined to specify which other agencies are involved.
Carol Schwab, the city attorney for Culver City, said her office focuses on municipal matters and "does not investigate or prosecute state law crimes." But she said she would cooperate with the L.A. city attorney's investigation.
Nissani denied that the alleged practices occurred but said that, if they did, neither he nor his managers were aware of them.