Dec. 22, 2017, By Christian Murray
The Department of Consumer Affairs, which filed charges against Major World in March for deceptive sales practices, has increased the damages sought from $1.5 million to $36.5 million.
The DCA claimed in March that the Northern Boulevard-based dealership had a long-standing practice of luring unsuspecting consumers, particularly those with limited English proficiency, with promises of great deals on used cars and financing–regardless of credit history and income.
The DCA initially sought more than $1.5 million in restitution and fines based on the complaints of 30 consumers. However, the city agency claims that it found wider abuse during the discovery process and is now seeking $36.5 million.
The city agency initially filed charges against the dealership primarily on the grounds of deceptive lending practices. The additional claims focus on the dealership’s alleged deception as to the condition of the vehicles themselves.
The DCA claims that the dealership deceived consumers as to the history of the vehicles and also violated state law in terms of the warranty and serviceability of the vehicles. It also found additional cases of deceptive print and web advertisements.
The agency is calling for the creation of a trust for the victims who were allegedly cheated by Major World. In addition, it seeks to revoke Major World’s auto dealer licenses.
The case will be heard in front of the city’s Office of Administrative Trails and Hearings. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Jan. 9.
The charges deal with the firm’s practices at Major World Chevrolet (43-40 Northern Boulevard), Major World Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (50-30 Northern Boulevard), and Major Kia of Long Island City (44-11 Northern Boulevard).
The DCA’s additional claims are part of the ongoing suit that allege that Major World would submit false information on consumers’ credit applications–such as the nature of their employment, income and monthly rent obligations–to ensure the loans were approved.
The company would target low-income immigrants who had a limited grasp of English, according to the DCA. Many got loans they were not qualified to receive, according to the DCA.
The dealership would then inflate the price of the vehicles, leaving many consumers with overpriced cars and heavily in debt, according to the DCA.
“Our city’s working families, who often struggle to make ends meet, rely on their cars to accomplish life’s most basic tasks like going to work or going to school,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas in March.
“Buying that car is usually one of the largest purchases a family makes. It is outrageous that Major World, who claims to treat its customers like family, traps these hardworking New Yorkers into loans they can’t afford.”
The owners of Major World could not be reached for comment.