July 24, 2021

N.Y. dealership settles claims of deceptive practices targeting Chinese, non-English-speaking customers

A New York City dealership accused of a slew of deceptive and illegal practices targeting non-English-speaking customers agreed to pay more than $286,855 in restitution and penalties Tuesday as part of a consent order with the state’s attorney general.

The office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James accused Star Toyota of Bayside of preying upon Chinese customers using “fraudulent, deceptive, and unlawful practices.”

Through Chinese-speaking sales staff, the dealership allegedly deceived customers by haggling in Chinese but changing the prices in contracts written in English. The dealership also is accused of jamming, which is slipping finance and insurance products into a car deal without the customer’s consent or knowledge.

“Stealing from our immigrant communities by taking advantage of language barriers is not only illegal, but downright shameful,” James said in a statement. “New York values its immigrant communities, and we will not stand idly by while they are targeted.”

Other accusations include the dealership failing to produce a final copy of the contract for customers, submitting false information to auto lenders to obtain loan approvals and demanding cash tips or money for items included in the finance agreement.

This is the second New York City dealership to be charged with deceiving non-English-speaking customers in two years.

Bay Ridge Honda agreed to pay more than $423,000 in restitution and penalties in 2018 to resolve claims of unwanted charges and fraudulent sales tactics toward non-English-speaking Chinese customers.

A consent order resolving the allegations against Star Toyota was granted in New York Supreme Court, Queens County and signed Justice Richard G. Latin, the statement also said.

The order requires the dealership to pay $100,000 in civil penalties to the state of New York and $186,855 in restitution to 21 known consumers.