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Major world, a car dealership with three branches in Long island city, may have to shell out millions of dollars for allegedly inflating prices, falsifying consumer credit applications, and deceptively targeting low-income and immigrant communities.
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is seeking more than $ 2 million in damages and fines from consumers at the dealer’s three locations at 43-40 Northern Blvd., 50-30 Northern Blvd. and 44-11 Northern Blvd. DCA will present its findings to the city’s administrative trials and hearings office and will also seek revocation of licenses and the creation of a trust fund for unidentified clients who have been harmed.
According to DCA commissioner Lorelei Salas, dealers have a habit of attracting unsuspecting consumers with little English and promising them good deals regardless of their credit history, income or business ratios. indebtedness.
The DCA accused Major World employees of routinely submitting false information about credit applications, including the nature of a client’s job, income levels and monthly rent obligations. In a spoofed app, Major World turned the customer from a grocery store manager into a grocery store owner, quadrupled his salary, and cut his rent by 75%.
In another example, Major World more than tripled the client’s income from less than $ 20,000 to $ 63,000, and said she was paying $ 400 in rent when her rent was around $ 1,100.
In other cases, the DCA has indicated that Major World’s falsified information contradicted a client’s pay stubs and bank statements, leading clients to receive high-interest loans that they would not have received. were entitled otherwise or that they could not have afforded.
Major World’s advertising also targeted Spanish-speaking customers and those with low income or low credit. The company used phrases such as “Buenos, Bonitos, Baratos” (good, pretty and cheap) and slogans like “No credit is not a problem” and “We design solutions for car buyers with a bad credit every day. ”
The DCA further accused the employees of also falsely inflating the value of the cars by falsely claiming that the vehicles had features such as aluminum / alloy wheels, a high-end Bose stereo or an entertainment system. back. The company would also add repair service contracts without the customer’s knowledge, adding thousands of dollars to the bill.
DCA also claims that the company sold “dangerously defective vehicles” that broke down shortly after being sold and that customers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair them. In some cases, Major World has reportedly refused to remedy unsafe conditions and make repairs.
While employees typically negotiate transactions in Spanish, documents are in English, and employees sometimes actively conceal interest rates and finance charges by folding pages before clients sign them.
“Buying this car is usually one of a family’s biggest purchases,” said Salas. “It is outrageous that Major World, which claims to treat its clients like family, is jailing these hard-working New Yorkers on loans they cannot afford. Major World has also been aggressively marketing to attract immigrant clients, and their deceptive and predatory acts are as much an affront to immigrant communities as the deplorable policies we see from the new federal government.
QNS has contacted Major World for comment and is awaiting a response.
U.S. household auto debt increased 9% from 2015 to 2016 and 13% since 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. At the end of 2016, Americans had nearly $ 1.2 trillion in outstanding auto loans.
DCA currently licenses 775 used car dealers across the city and has received more than 5,500 industry complaints since mid-2013, including more than 1,050 since July 2016. DCA has received 114 complaints about Major World since 2014.
DCA encourages clients who believe they have been lied to by Major World to contact the agency by calling 311 or filing a complaint at nyc.gov/dca.