For Immediate Release:
Friday, January 25, 2019
Department of Consumer Affairs Announces Decision in Major World Case
NEW YORK, NY – Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced that DCA has been awarded more than $3 million in fines in its case against Queens-based Major World—one of the largest used car dealerships in New York City. This brings a close to its 2017 lawsuit, in which DCA charged Major World with using deceptive and illegal practices to profit from vulnerable low-income and immigrant consumers. The decision, issued by the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), finds Major World guilty of most of the unlawful and harmful conduct DCA alleged, and puts Major World on notice that a continuation of that conduct could result in revocation of its license. To ensure consumers received restitution for the harm they suffered in a timely manner, DCA entered into a settlement agreement with Major World in 2018, which required the used car dealership to pay nearly $142,000 in restitution to 40 consumers directly and $68,000 to cover outstanding loans incurred as a result of Major World’s actions. Both amounts included additional funds to cover income taxes that would have to be paid on the restitution awards, and Major World also agreed to refund consumers who had to pay out-of-pocket expenses for repairs performed on their automobiles.
“We are pleased that the judge recognized Major World’s egregious conduct and ordered that they pay a multi-million dollar fine,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “While we believe Major World’s actions warranted license revocation—or at least suspension—and that a consumer restitution fund would ensure the many other consumers harmed by their practices could be made whole, the decision puts Major World and other used car dealerships on alert: DCA will not tolerate this conduct. Our work here is far from done and we will continue to closely monitor Major World’s practices and encourage any consumers to come to us and file a complaint.”
The decision finds that Major World committed tens of thousands of violations of the laws and rules that DCA enforces, including falsifying consumers’ income and/or monthly rent obligations on credit applications, falsely advertising the financial terms of deals in print advertisements and on its English and Spanish websites, concealing the finance terms of deals from consumers, failing to provide deal documents in Spanish to certain Spanish-speaking consumers, and misleading consumers about their legal rights and the history, condition, and quality of the used cars they purchased.
Enforcement is one prong of DCA’s efforts to combat predatory lending in the used car industry. DCA has also engaged in education and advocacy efforts. Last year, DCA launched a public awareness campaign
to educate New Yorkers about predatory lending in the used car industry. Also, as a result of DCA’s public hearing, legislation was introduced and all used car dealers in New York City are now required to provide consumers with a Consumer Bill of Rights
, a financing disclosure form
, and a cancellation option
—all of which must be in the language used to negotiate the contract. These new required documents, which are available in multiple languages, ensure that all consumers are aware of their financing options and understand the terms of their sales contract, and are the result of a package of legislation signed into law last year to combat predatory practices in the used car industry.
DCA currently licenses 692 used car dealerships, and it has received more than 7,600 complaints about the industry since 2015. Since 2014, DCA has conducted nearly 3,100 inspections of used car dealerships and issued more than 1,100 violations, most of which were for unlicensed activity, failing to post required signs, and parking vehicles on the sidewalk or roadway. As a result of the Department’s work mediating complaints, charging businesses with violations of the law and rules, and executing settlements, DCA has secured nearly $2.1 million in consumer restitution and nearly $2.1 million in fines against used car dealerships over the past five years.
DCA encourages any consumer who has had a problem with any used car dealership to file a complaint by visiting nyc.gov/dca
or contacting 311. Any New Yorker who is trying to get their finances in order before buying a car or who is struggling with debt, can make an appointment for free, one-on-one financial counseling at one of the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers by calling 311 or online at nyc.gov/dca
DCA’s case was being handled by Staff Counsel Mark Butler and Assistant General Counsel Danielle Ilacqua, under the supervision of Associate General Counsel Adam Blumenkrantz of the General Counsel Division, which is led by General Counsel Tamala Boyd and Deputy General Counsel Michael Tiger.
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.
Abigail Lootens / Gloria Chin
Department of Consumer Affairs