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Attorney General James warns New Yorkers to be cautious of practices targeting Jewish communities before Passover


Mon, Mar 20th 2023 01:45 pm

Submitted by the Office of New York Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a consumer alert urging New Yorkers to be cautious of potential discriminatory pricing practices at car washes in advance of Passover. In previous years, there have been reports of car wash businesses in predominantly Orthodox Jewish communities in New York City raising prices by as much as 50% for Jewish customers seeking cleaning services close to Passover.

In the days leading up to Passover, many Jews clean their homes, cars and other spaces to remove “chametz” (leavened products). According to reports provided to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), some companies have advertised “specials” for car washing services related to Passover but, instead, charged higher prices to customers.

To protect New Yorkers from these practices, Attorney General James has previously sent letters to organizations representing car wash owners in New York to remind their members that any such business practice is illegal and should be reported to OAG.

“Taking advantage of someone’s religious observances and practices is offensive, discriminatory, and absolutely unacceptable,” James said. “For millions of observant Jews in New York and beyond, Passover is an important holiday – and their preparations should be respected, not manipulated for profit. I urge any New Yorker who is concerned that they have been a victim of discriminatory behavior because of their religion, race or background to contact my office immediately.” 

Assembly member Simcha Eichenstein said, “Last year, we brought this matter to the attention of Attorney General Letitia James, and she swiftly issued a consumer alert for which we are grateful. As Passover approaches again, the attorney general is being proactive and has issued another consumer alert.

“Let’s be clear: Car wash establishments who shamelessly overcharge their Jewish customers for services before the Passover holiday are clearly discriminating against one religious community. That is unacceptable and illegal. Car wash operators, you have now been warned. Don’t do it.”

Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal said, “The holiday of Passover is a joyous time for those celebrating. It can also be a stressful time, as there is often a lot of preparation that goes into it. Unnecessary financial pressure should never be placed on any religious community by those seeking to profiteer. I commend Attorney General James for proactively protecting the people of New York from discriminatory price-gouging.”

Assembly member Nily Rozic said, “Scammers constantly try new methods to trick consumers, even during religious holidays. As the Jewish community prepares for Passover, it's essential that consumers are cognizant of scammers and look out for holiday-related price-gouging. I’m thankful to Attorney General James for her continued efforts to crack down on discriminatory practices.”

Anyone who is aware of businesses using discriminatory practices or believes that they were charged more for services because of their religion, race or background is encouraged to file a complaint with OAG online or call 1-800-771-7755.

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