ALBANY, N.Y. — State Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced a settlement requiring Bay Ridge Honda of Brooklyn (N.Y.) to reform its business practices and pay more than $423,000 in restitution and penalties after the office received dozens of complaints from New Yorkers about unwanted charges and fraudulent sales tactics that targeted non-English speakers.
Many of the consumers who complained were Mandarin and Cantonese speakers who negotiated their sales or lease contracts in Chinese, but were only provided English documents that they later discovered contained different terms and unwanted and costly aftermarket items in their bills, according to the AG’s announcement.
Under the settlement, Underwood obtained restitution for 47 New Yorkers “known” to have been harmed by the dealership’s practices, as well as requirements that the dealership stop engaging in the alleged deceptive practices, and modify employee training and the processing of consumer complaints. Bay Ridge Honda also agreed to ensure future sales and lending documents are translated into the language the dealership conducts business in with consumers, prior to signing any documents in English.
“We have zero tolerance for unscrupulous businesses that prey on immigrant communities and non-English speakers,” said Attorney General Underwood. “This office will continue to protect the rights of all New Yorkers, of all backgrounds.”
Attorney General Underwood alleged that Bay Ridge Honda engaged in a variety of deceptive practices, misleading consumers about the true cost of their purchases — including unlawfully selling unwanted aftermarket items, such as supplemental service contracts, GAP policies, or special protections for tires, fabric, glass, or paint that added thousands of dollars to the auto sale or lease contracts.
The investigation also found that the dealership falsely promised to refinance consumers’ loans. For example, when consumers complained that the dealership had overcharged them or included unwanted extra aftermarket items in their contracts, dealership staff would falsely promise to refinance to a lower rate after a few months of payments. Ultimately, the dealership did not honor these refinancing promises, Underwood said.
Under the Consent Order, Bay Ridge Honda will refund $269,525 to the 47 known parties. In addition to restitution, the dealership will also pay $153,648 in penalties, fees, and costs to the state.