ST. MICHAELS, Ariz. — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against Tates Auto in the U.S. District Court of Arizona for committing unlawful and unfair business practices.
The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission (Commission) through its public hearings and written complaints filed by elderly Navajo consumers, collected and analyzed data regarding automobile purchases made on the Navajo Nation and at dealerships located in border towns.
The data suggest that border town automobile dealers, in particular, Tates Auto had the majority of the complaints, were alleged to commit unlawful and unfair business practices.
“Many of our elderly Navajo consumers were taken advantage of and were put into positions where they were not able to afford to buy a used car or new vehicle” said Varvara Phillips, Navajo Nation Human Rights investigator.
In 2014, the Commission forwarded the collected data and presented the findings to the Federal Trade Commission for review. During the investigation Phillips played a significant role in providing information to the FTC regarding Commission cases that were filed against Tates and other dealerships surrounding the Navajo Nation.
On July 31, the FTC filed a complaint with U.S. District Court of Arizona against Tates Auto for falsifying consumer information on financing documents.
“Tates Auto increased consumer’s monthly income and inflated amount of down payment when filling out consumers loan documents,” reads the complaint.
Phillips said though the process to get the complaint filed with the FTC was lengthy, it was worth the wait.
“This is excellent news for our Navajo consumers,” she said. “If it were not for our Navajo citizens who came forward to share their automobile purchases experience through public hearings and/or written complaints with Commission we would not have the data.”
Phillips said the data collected was important and helpful for the FTC to pursue a formal complaint against Tates Auto.
“These unlawful and unfair business practices by border town automobile dealers have gone on for too long,” she said. “I hope the FTC complaint against Tates Auto sends a message to other border town automobile dealers they need to comply with local, state and federal laws.”
Leonard Gorman, executive director for the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, said it is important to note that Navajo consumers in all areas of goods and services are unfortunately preyed upon by border town businesses.
“That includes offering high interest rates, selling defective goods and falsifying information about Navajo consumers, all in the name of free enterprise,” Gorman said. “It is important for business to also protect and respect Navajo consumer human rights, which may include explaining the goods and services in the Navajo language.”
More information about the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission is available by calling (928) 871-7436.
Information provided by the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission