Los Angeles, California - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a lawsuit against Curacao, a retail store chain that ranks among the 50 largest electronics and appliance retailers in the United States and has nine locations in Southern California. The company actively markets its products to members of the Latino community – specifically low-income individuals, Spanish speakers, and immigrants – who lack credit history and have minimal experience with credit card and retail payment plans.
In the lawsuit, which follows an investigation carried out in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, Attorney General Becerra alleges that Curacao engages in numerous and pervasive unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices.
“Curacao is a well-known retailer among many Latino families in Southern California and even markets itself as un poco de su país (a little bit of your country),” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this case to prove that Curacao deliberately and systematically preys on these very families and their hard-earned money. It’s disgraceful, and more to the point, it’s unlawful. Curacao has a right to market its goods but not to take advantage of its customers. Families in our great state should know that they have rights as consumers and DOJ has the people and tools to defend them.”
The DOJ complaint contends that Curacao takes advantage of consumers through:
- Bait-and-switch advertising
- Product bundling
- Adding items and services to consumers’ contracts without their knowledge or consent
- Failing to provide notice that translated contracts are available to consumers who negotiate in Spanish
- Failing to tell consumers about return policies until after purchase
- Failing to honor return policies
- Selling warranties illegally
- Failing to tell consumers about important warranty terms
- Failing to honor warranties
- Harassing and threatening consumers who fall behind on their payments
- Failing to properly serve consumer defendants in small claims cases
Since taking office, Attorney General Becerra has announced a $120 million multistate settlement with General Motors Company (GM) over allegations that the company concealed safety issues related to defective ignition switches in GM vehicles; charged San Diego jewelers with unlawful financial and debt collection practices targeting active military families; and filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education for unlawfully delaying critical provisions of the Gainful Employment Rule, an Obama-era protection that requires for-profit schools to prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”