FARMINGTON — Navajo consumers are complaining that car dealerships surrounding the reservation are ripping them off.
The Navajo Human Rights Commission plans to discuss the problem during a meeting at the Dilkon Chapter House in Dilkon, Ariz., at 10 a.m. Friday. It will seek testimony of Navajo who believe they have been victims of unfair sales tactics.
“We've received a lot of calls from Shiprock,” said Rachelle Todea, the commission spokeswoman.
The majority of complaints have been about car dealerships surrounding Interstate 40, which runs through Albuquerque.
Complaints also have been made about dealerships in the towns bordering the reservation, such as Gallup and Farmington.
“I think we'll be able to break down some of the information,” said Todea, who hopes to map out where complaints are coming from most frequently.
One tactic is salespeople advertising a great deal to lure in customers, though when the customer arrives, the deal no longer is on the table, if it ever existed. Instead, a less appealing purchase is offered.
Other times, salespeople will say that a deal is a limited time offer, or that it is in high demand to create a sense of urgency that will push the buyer to make a quick purchase.
“All of this starts with advertising,” said Calvin Lee Jr., staff attorney for the commission.
Most consumers have not filed formal complaints in the past, but are beginning to do so.
The best way to avoid trickery is to arm yourself with knowledge about your credit score, your budget and the cars that you are interested in.
Lee suggested victims visit the National Consumer Law website to better educate themselves.
If you are or someone you know is Navajo and would like to share testimony about predatory car sales tactics, attend the meeting Friday or call the Navajo Human Rights Commission at 928-871-7437.