BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is suing a Haverhill dealership claiming it was illegally charging Black and Hispanic customers hundreds of dollars more for add-on products during purchases.
The complaint alleges that Jaffarian Volvo Toyota of Haverhill charged Black and Hispanic customers around $500 and $400 more respectively for add-on products like paint protection, GAP insurance, and remote starters than it did for White customers in similar situations, according to the dealership's sale history.
The AG's office said the dealership allowed its staff to markup the prices and did not give any training or supervision to prevent price discrimination. This practice led to the dealership making more than $170,000 in "improper profits" over a two-year period, according to the AG's office.
“Purchasing a vehicle is already a significant financial decision for many families and individuals," AG Healy said in a statement. "The last thing they should be worried about is unfairly paying more for a product because of their race or national origin.”
Jaffarian Volvo Toyota denied AG Healy's claims of discrimination and said in a statement on Monday they have never received any customer complaint regarding discrimination in its sales.
"Our dealerships based in Haverhill cater to local consumers from Lawrence and the Merrimack Valley—areas with a significant Latinx population—so we would be hurting ourselves to discriminate in any way.” Gary Jaffarian said in a statement. “My son and I are in the dealership every day; we have telephones around the dealership that any consumer can pick up and talk to us or voice any concerns they have and we have never heard anyone say or suggest there has been any form of discrimination.”
Jaffarian's attorney, Christopher J. Marino, said the AG's office never informed the dealership why they were investigating their sales and were under the impression the Attorney General's Office was "willing to sit down and listen," before receiving the notice they were being sued.
The AG's office said dealerships will often make more money selling add-on products than on the sale of the car itself and will spring add-ons onto customers as a way to make up pricing that they may have lost during negotiations.
WBZ's James Rojas (@JamesRojasNews) reports.