Wondries Toyota of Alhambra, Calif., that caters to Chinese speakers has settled a lawsuit with 11 customers who claimed sales people took advantage of their limited English to sell them cars at exorbitant interest rates. The dealer agrees to pay each plaintiff an undisclosed amount and gave each customer a letter of apology, according to Manjari Chawla, attorney for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, which sued Wondries on their behalf.
The settlement also places a 4.5 percent cap on the amount the dealership can add to the interest rate approved by the finance company, Chawla said. In a lawsuit filed in December 2002, the plaintiffs alleged that Wondries staff agreed orally to a certain interest rate, but then increased that rate substantially in the written contract, knowing the clients couldn't read English. In one case, a man with an excellent credit rating was charged 19.6 percent by the dealership, (Source: AP, Apr. 23, 2004).