State Attorney General Letitia James is alerting New Yorkers to be cautious of discriminatory pricing practices at car washes in advance of Passover. In previous years, car wash businesses in predominantly Orthodox Jewish communities have reportedly raised prices by as much as 50 percent for Jewish customers seeking chametz-removal cleanings close to the holiday.
According to reports provided to the Office of the Attorney General, some companies have advertised “specials” for car washing services related to Passover, but instead of offering a discount, charged higher prices. James previously sent letters to organizations representing car wash owners in New York to remind their members that any such business practice is illegal.
“Taking advantage of someone’s religious observances and practices is offensive, discriminatory, and absolutely unacceptable,” said James.
“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.”
Brooklyn Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein said that last year, when the problem was brought to James’ attention, “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,” Eichenstein said. “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.”
Queens Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal said that “unnecessary financial pressure should never be placed on any religious community by those seeking to profiteer … from discriminatory price gouging.”
“Scammers constantly try new methods to trick consumers, even during religious holidays,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic, also of Queens.
“As the Jewish community prepares for Passover, it’s essential that consumers are cognizant of scammers and look out for holiday-related price gouging.”
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 may file a complaint by calling 800-771-7755.