BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Major World Auto, a car dealership with three locations in Long Island City, has been accused of inflating prices, falsifying consumer credit applications and targeting low-income and immigrant consumers, the commissioner for the city’s Consumer Affairs department said.
The dealership—which boasts such slogans as “No credit is no problem” and “We design solutions for bad credit car buyers every day”—operates three locations in Long Island City, including 43-40 Northern Blvd., 44-11 Northern Blvd. and 50-30 Northern Blvd.
Last week, Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas announced that the agency is seeking more than $2 million in consumer restitution and fines.
“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,” Salas said. “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. Major World has also been marketing aggressively to attract immigrant customers and their deceptive and predatory acts are as much an affront on immigrant communities as the deplorable policies we are seeing from the new federal government. Here in New York City, we are leveraging all the tools we have to curb this burgeoning lending problem that is adding to the national debt crisis.”
But in a statement, Major World defended itself against the DCA’s allegations.
“Based on their lawsuit, the DCA has found a small number (30 to date) of the 10,000 plus satisfied customers we serve annually,” the statement read. “The number of complaints received by the DCA regarding Major World itself is a miniscule number (114 in three years by their count, a 99.62 percent satisfaction rate). Almost none of the complaints are about vehicle financing. Major World looks forward to defending its practices and clarifying what appears to be a misunderstanding about our business practices. The management of Major World and all of our loyal and hard-working employees take great pride in the products and services offered to our tri-state neighbors.”
The DCA, which will present its findings to the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, is not only demanding that fines be paid, but the agency is also requesting that all three of Major World’s locations have their licenses revoked and that a trust fund be created for any unidentified customers who may have been harmed.
So far, DCA has investigated 30 consumers who have allegedly been bilked by Major World. A majority of the claims allege that the dealership took part in deceptive advertising to lure vulnerable, low-income consumers or inflated prices with non-existent accessories, falsified consumer credit applications, failed to disclose and conceal financing terms, provide contracts in Spanish and sell roadworthy vehicles.
According to DCA, the dealerships have allegedly had a longstanding 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, income or income-to-debt ratios.
The DCA encouraged customers who believe that they may have been lied to by Major World to contact the agency by calling 311 or filing a complaint at nyc.gov/dca.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org