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Ridge car dealer to pay $400K for scamming Chinese buyers

Scene of the alleged scam: The top brass at Bay Ridge Honda — at Fourth Avenue and 88th Street — will pay out more than $400,000 after allegedly overcharging and scamming non-English speaking customers, according to the office of Attorney General Barbara Underwood.
Brooklyn Daily
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Talk about being taken for a ride.

A Bay Ridge car dealership will pay out more than $400,000 in restitution and penalties for overcharging and scamming non-English speaking customers, many of whom were Chinese, state Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced on July 5. The state’s top cop said Bay Ridge Honda — on Fourth Avenue at 88th Street — would pay the price for their alleged deceptive practices.

“We have zero tolerance for unscrupulous businesses that prey on immigrant communities and non-English speakers,” Underwood said. “This office will continue to protect the rights of all New Yorkers, of all backgrounds.”

Sales reps at the dealership scammed at least 47 customers — many of whom spoke Mandarin or Cantonese — by lying to them about the real costs of their purchases and tacking on thousands of dollars in extra charges for unwanted services, insurance policies, and special protections on both sale and lease contracts. Even though staff at the dealership negotiated the contracts in Chinese when applicable, they hid their deception in the English documents, which customers didn’t discover until after they received their bills, according to the attorney general’s office.

And when customers called out sales people at the dealership for overcharging them, dealership reps would falsely promise that they would refinance customers’ loans to a lower rate after a few months of payments, according to Underwood, which she said which they never did.

When one customer received her first bill from the dealership, she saw that her loan was for 72 months, instead of 60 as they had told her, according to Underwood’s office, which added that the customer also discovered she was paying more than $7,000 for services that the dealership staff never mentioned during the sales negotiation that was conducted in Chinese.

The dealership will pay more than $269,000 in restitution to the 47 customers it allegedly scammed, plus more than $153,000 in penalties to the state. Plus, the top brass at Bay Ridge Honda agreed to stop their alleged phony business practices, change both employee training and the process of recording complaints, and produce sales and lending documents translated into customers’ preferred language before they sign any English documents.

The president of the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association, based in Sunset Park, said the organization applauded Underwood’s investigation and urged the attorney general to continue looking into area businesses, adding that deceptive business dealings would likely continue as the Chinese population continues to grow.

“As the first Asian social services agency in the Brooklyn Sunset Park neighborhood for thirty years, BCA has witnessed, over and over, incidents in which members of the immigrant community are taken advantage of due to their unfamiliarity with business practice, culture and the language,” said Paul Mak. “BCA has dealt with many of these complaints and often act as intermediary with various government agencies. Sadly, as the Chinese community in Brooklyn continues to grow, incidents like those with Bay Ridge Honda will recur, with many in the community becoming preys to unscrupulous businesses. What we have seen is perhaps the proverbial tip of the iceberg.”

The owner and president of Bay Ridge Auto Group — which owns the Bay Ridge Honda dealership as well as the Volvo, Mazda, and Volkswagen dealerships on Fourth Avenue — said the nearly 60-year-old company cooperated with the attorney general’s investigation and that the complaints were an anomaly that did not reflect day-to-day and future conduct at the dealership.

“The complaints are not representative of the service we provide to our customers on a daily basis,” said Robert Sabbagh. “However, this matter has served to strengthen our resolve to provide the very best in customer service and to provide an honest and open car buying experience.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 10:45 am, July 13, 2018
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Reader feedback

Charlie from Sheepshead bay says:
An anomaly? Lol. Yeah right!
July 13, 1:46 am
Rachel from Sunset Park says:
Dammnnn, talking about scams!That ain't a right thing to do. Guess not ever going to buy from there!
July 13, 9:24 am
Ed Ng from Bensonhurst says:
Same scenario happened when I asked for 3 year (36 month) lease. THroughout the whole conversation it has always been a 36 month lease discussion until we were ready to sign, it turns out to be a 39 month lease where the last 3 months, the maintenance is not covered. We literally said to them directly, this whole discussion has been about a 3 year (36 month) lease, not 39 and they come back and tried to pull something in an agreement that wasn't discuss in hopes we would sign it right away but no, we threaten to leave if you think we would sign it. Thinking back, we should of left to another dealership instead. Not worth doing business with Bay Ridge Honda, we (customers) don't deserve to spend all this money on a dealership giving us all this headache.
July 13, 10:47 am
Peter from Borough Park says:
I absolutely agree that these complaints are the EXACT representation of the service Bay Ridge Honda provides to the customers on a daily basis. They were trained do all this. I used to have my car come in for oil change and inspection, and the report is completely false, all items indicated that needs attention and replacement are lies. For example, it stated I need a brake pad replacement since report marked off in the red zone, so I quickly questioned it and brought it to another auto shop and turns out that the brake pad wasn't even close to being used halfway, I went back to Bay Ridge Honda to the same consultant that served me and he made me wait 10 mins just to tell me "Oh the mechanic who process my car is not here", I mean don't try to LIE about a maintenance issue in my car just so you can get more business. Let's be honest so you can earn TRUST from customers which obviously Bay RIdge Honda is losing heavily.
July 13, 10:57 am
Linda from Marine Park says:
Sadly, this is far from an "anomaly" at Bay Ridge Honda. Last year, when helping my son purchase a car, the very deceptive, shady and underhanded Finance manager tried to slip a different sheet of paper with a different higher rate than what was negotiated, for us to sign. Unfortunately for him, I never sign anything without reading it fully. I caught the deception red-handed and he tried to shuck it off as an "oops...wrong paper". Not so! He did this on purpose hoping we wouldn't notice. We will certainly never do business with Bay Ridge Honda ever again.
July 13, 11:07 am
Eric from Bensonhurst says:
I knew this dealership is a fraud practice. Thank god I never purchase my new hondas from this location. I would definitely share these news among my friends and relatives to never give business to this dealer or other dealers own by this owner. Great job Underwood! thank you for your service for the asian communities.
July 13, 11:10 am
Jim from Bensonhurst says:
Why aren't there criminal penalties for those who scammed people?
July 13, 11:45 am
N/A from Todt Hill says:
They run their business by scamming people. I purchased my car here and the next week my tires were stolen. They never offered wheel locks and I'm confident that they gave my address to someone to steal my tires. I live in one of the most safety neighborhoods in Staten island and nothing like this has ever happened in this area. Also the sales person who sold me the car (Adrian P. Sylvester) was in the news for being part of a scam at the Honda in Queens and this place hired him after knowing this. It's a shame that business like this make money by scamming innocent people.
July 13, 1:09 pm
Jeff says:
How about other bayridge dealerships like bayridge Nissan. Aren’t they all the same owner? I was at bayridge Nissan. Went in to purchase a used car for 24k. I traded in my original car. For 10k. After everything was said and done and papers were signed I still ended up paying 21k After the trade in.
July 13, 3:05 pm
Sam from BK says:
We had a decent experience at Bay Ridge Honda but probably only because we purchased, and did it through the Costco buyers program, which tells the sales person what they must sell the car at. I bet if we leased it would’ve a different story. So many sales people, financing people, customers milling around, it’s a state of mass confusion. Honda is a very popular manufacturer and there aren’t many options here in NYC. This is a sad dtory all around and the owner likely knew what was going on all the time—seems like a scumbag.
July 14, 7:52 am
BZ from Bay Ridge says:
My experience with this dealership a while back was not a positive one. I planned to lease a Honda Accord and scheduled ahead of time to have a test drive with one of the salesman there. I got there and after a quick look by the salesperson I was told that I could only have 15minutes with the car and could only drive around the block. What kind of test drive has a 15minute allotment and only within the block? I left after the ridiculous test drive and never looked back. Best to avoid unless you get it through truecar, costco car program or a program of the like which gives you the offer on the car you want and which will be the price to will actually pay at the dealership. Just make sure before you sign anything you make sure all the numbers are exactly what it should be!
July 14, 10:03 am
Vlad from Bay Ridge says:
1. Car salesmen have a bad reputation for a reason.

2. “staff at the dealership negotiated the contracts in Chinese”
It’s often your own that screw you over first.

3. Deceptive practices my ass, this is theft. The salesforce should be in jail along with management.
July 14, 11:10 am
shankar Narayanan from Huntsville AL says:
Sure! . complaints were an anomaly! The Honda Company should pull their dealership..
July 14, 7:58 pm
Smart consumer from Brooklyn says:
All NYC car dealers are crooks.
July 14, 9:55 pm
Shirley says:
@Linda from Marine Park - I had the similar experience, the finance manager had slip an term in a financing term agreement where I would get fined for early prepayment - absolutely ridiculous, we weren’t going to sign that paper and was about to ask for our deposit back until they finally gave us a new agreement where we have to spend time rereading that agreement to be sure no more further surprises, I just don’t understand how these crooks can stay in business and all their awards they represent they had achieve are all fraudulent as well. A fine to this dealership doesn’t make up the years of scamming activity this dealership has done, Criminal Action must be taken against these managers who trained their employees to such acts
July 15, 8:09 am
David says:
As a former employee here, I agree with this article and can confirm many of these tactics were instructed by our managers in efforts to meet quotas for this location. I could not simply stand doing business with consumers where we have to lie and insert surprises on agreements just to get signatures and a sale. I can confirm that with leasing side where we were told to offer an extended lease term agreement and I can confirm that the finance manager at the time would take advantage of anyone who had limited history of borrowing a loan. I simply could not stand working in such environment in order to make money and win awards for this location that they simply did not deserve.
July 15, 8:15 am
Mike from Bensonhurst says:
To the Owner: STOP LYING! These actions indicated in this article are the practices that your managers and staff use every single day. Not just from the sales department, but service department too. Someone else had mentioned this on a reply, but the reports you provide after inspection are FALSE - FAKE NEWS so to speak. You service agents lied about the services needed and parts needing replacement, your finance managers offer absolutely ridiculous finance terms with "Early Prepayment Penalty"? and lease terms if one agrees to 36 months, you slap another 3-4 months without discussing with the customer first - Absolutely unprofessional! and unethical! You expect the customers to believe this doesn't happen everyday! I don't think so. Managers and Staff needed to be held responsible with criminal penalty as another person had mentioned.

To All Other Customers: Don't shop here or any of the mentioned Bay Ridge Dealerships - Honda, Volvo, Mazda, and Volkswagen, because they are all run by same people using same tactics, go further away from area, it will definitely be worth the travel for a better experience.
July 17, 10:33 am
GM from Bay Ridge says:
How can people be so stupid to think they could get away with this? Just because people don't know much English doesn't mean they don't know math.
July 18, 5:36 am
Rosanna from Bensonhurst says:
They took me for a ride in November 2017. I called them 2 days after I picked up my new lease and they gave me the run around for 2 weeks and then said they couldn't do anything for me. I am now stuck with a car I am soooo over paying the lease on. Will never go back and will never recommend them. Honda Motor Company should be ashamed to be associated with this group of scam artists.
July 18, 3:52 pm
Chris from Brooklyn says:
I just caught the service department lying to me about rotating the tires. Who knows what else they have or have not been doing. I will not be back to the service center for anything.
July 23, 3:07 pm
Peggy from Brooklyn says:
I had a problem after bringing car got state inspection. I had appointment on Friday evening and car was inspected in a half an hour only to find out it was hit in shop. I was told that a worker tapped my car with another car which caused my bumper to be smashed in and needed bumper replacement. I don’t see how a car can be tapped and do so much damage. I was told by customer service rep that it was damaged coming off lift. When I asked the service rep his comment was that she doesn’t know what she is talking about? Lies, lies and lies. I found out they drove my car 10 Miles’s and was told that they usually road test on highway. So then why did they drive my car on 42 st and get a red light camera speeding ticket? I got my car back and saw some unsmooth imperfections on new bumper. I took someplace else to check the car and wax told the bumper is not aligned and needs to be repainted and prepped. Very upset with this happening to my new car
July 30, 6:21 am

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