The parent company of two Mazda dealerships in Massachusetts has settled with the state's attorney general for $350,000 after being accused of discriminatory financing and insurance practices against Black and Latino customers. The two dealerships' parent company, Hometown Auto Framingham, operates North Shore Mazda and Wellesley Mazda. It "vehemently denies" the claims, and states it settled with the state because continuing to fight the case would "take more of our valuable time away from our customers and their automotive needs."
Despite Hometown Auto Framingham's denials, Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell says her office's found clear patterns of discrimination. Documents analyzed between Jan. 1, 2016, and March 31, 2018, showed that, compared to white customers, Black customers of the two Mazda dealerships paid an average of $280 more for the same add-on products, including extended warranties or protection services. For Latino customers, it was an average of $197 more.
Hometown Auto Framingham says its own lawyers, Charles River Associates, analyzed the same data given to the AG's office and came to a contrary conclusion. It also claims that the AG's office would not share its report or identify its experts when asked.
The settlement is not limited to the aforementioned $350,000 fine. For the next three years, the two dealerships must have fixed margins on all products relating to financing and insurance. It can adjust these margins down, but not up.
"Consumers need to know that their race or ethnicity will have absolutely no effect on the type of service they receive from Massachusetts auto dealerships," Campbell said in a statement. "We will continue our advocacy to ensure all consumers are being charged for services equally and fairly."
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