FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Abigail Lootens / Christine Gianakis
Department of Consumer Affairs
(212) 436-0042 firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Consumer Affairs Settles Charges with Icon Quik Park for Charging Customers "NYC Living Wage Assessment" Fee
Consumer Affairs’ Settlement Agreement Requires Parking Garage Chain to Refund $1.2 Million to Monthly Customers
NEW YORK, NY–Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced a settlement agreement with Citizens Icon Holdings, LLC (“Icon”), the parent company of 296 entities, each of which operates an Icon or Quik Park parking garage in New York City. Starting in January 2017, just after the state’s new minimum wage went into effect, Icon began charging its monthly customers a $30 “NYC Living Wage Assessment” fee. The City’s Consumer Protection Law prohibits statements that may mislead consumers. In this instance, Icon used the phrase “NYC Living Wage Assessment” even though it increased its employees’ wages to comply with the New York State minimum wage increase, not in response to New York City Law or to reach a living wage. Icon also did not notify its customers of the fee in a timely manner.
“A business that misleads customers about what its fees are for is violating our City’s Consumer Protection Law,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “The state’s minimum wage increase is vital for the livelihood of so many hardworking New Yorkers. Thanks to DCA’s efforts, Icon has agreed to reimburse those who may have been misled by its ‘NYC Living Wage Assessment’ fee.”
DCA began an investigation after learning of the practice and Icon has now stopped charging the fee. This agreement, which settles DCA’s charges for violations of the City’s Consumer Protection Law, requires Icon to:
- Reimburse all 22,756 monthly customers who were charged the $30 monthly fee in January and February and inform them of the reason for the reimbursement. Current customers will receive the reimbursement as a deduction in their September statement and Icon will reimburse any customers who are not currently under contract in the form the customer paid the fee;
- Comply with all applicable laws and rules, including the Consumer Protection Law and the laws and rules directing parking garages and lots to provide adequate notice of rate increases to its consumers and DCA; and
- Develop and implement a compliance plan and identify an individual responsible for ensuring compliance with the settlement agreement.
“For a company to misleadingly use a minimum wage increase to disguise an ordinary price hike was a deeply cynical violation of the public trust,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “From the moment constituents alerted me to this issue last December, it was clear that things did not add up. I applaud the Department of Consumer Affairs for its vigorous efforts to get to the bottom of this issue and protect New York City consumers’ rights. This is government at its best: investigating misfeasance and delivering results for New Yorkers.”
“Thank you to the Department of Consumer Affairs for taking action on our complaint against Icon’s parking garages in Stuyvesant Town,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “They were acting improperly and got caught. Let this be a lesson for all New York businesses—if you take advantage of your consumers, we will fight back.”
DCA’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards is responsible for prosecuting violations of the Living Wage Law
, which requires certain employers that receive at least $1 million of financial assistance from the City to pay no less than the living wage to their employees. Under the law, the living wage rate in January and February of this year was $11.70 per hour with health benefits or $13.40 per hour without health benefits. As of December 31, 2016, the New York State minimum wage
increased for all workers regardless of status. The wage varies depending on the size and type of the business—for employers like Icon the rate would be $10.50 or $11 depending on the number of employees.
A DCA parking garage and lot license is required to operate a parking garage or lot that is open to the public and charges for parking. DCA currently licenses 1,674 parking garages and lots. DCA encourages consumers who have a garage or parking lot complaint to file a complaint online at nyc.gov/dca
or by calling 311.
The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCA licenses more than 81,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCA protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCA empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCA also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCA and its work, call 311 or visit DCA at nyc.gov/dca or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.