Massachusetts AG suing franchised store over discriminatory F&I practices

Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey made another move involving the automotive space last week, alleging more misdeeds involving how vehicles are financed.

Healey’s office is suing a Haverhill, Mass., franchised dealership for engaging in what the AG called unfair, deceptive, and discriminatory pricing practices against Black and Hispanic customers by illegally charging them hundreds of dollars more for “add-on” products when purchasing a vehicle.

According to a news release, the AG’s complaint, filed in Essex Superior Court, alleges that Jaffarian’s Service Inc., which does business as Jaffarian Volvo Toyota of Haverhill charged Black and Hispanic customers on average hundreds of dollars more than white customers for “add-on” products such as paint protection, GAP insurance and remote starters. 

The AG’s complaint alleges that the dealership gave staff full discretion to markup the prices of add-on products, and its sales history shows that Jaffarian appeared to charge Black and Hispanic customers, on average, approximately $500 more and $400 more, respectively, for add-on products than similarly situated white customers.

Healey said this alleged discriminatory sales practice resulted in more than $170,000 in improper profits for the dealership in a two-year period.

The complaint also alleges that the dealership provided no training or supervision of its pricing policies and practices to prevent pricing discrimination. 

The AG’s Office alleges that Jaffarian’s practices violate the state’s Consumer Protection Act and the Public Accommodations Law, which prohibits discrimination on account of race, color, and national origin in public places.

“Purchasing a vehicle is already a significant financial decision for many families and individuals — the last thing they should be worried about is unfairly paying more for a product because of their race or national origin,” Healey said in the news release.

Since 2017, Healey has handed out a wide array of actions against operators in the automotive space, including independent dealers as well as Byrider, Exeter Finance, Santander Consumer USA, Westlake Financial, and Credit Acceptance.

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