State files lawsuit against Curacao for deceptive business practices

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SOUTH GATE – State officials have filed a lawsuit against Latino retailer Curacao, alleging they defrauded consumers through false advertising and deceptive business practices. 

The lawsuit was announced Friday by the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs in conjunction with the Office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Curacao is a retail store chain that ranks among the 50 largest electronics and appliance retailers in the United States and has nine locations in Southern California. 

The company actively markets its products to members of the Latino community – specifically low-income, Spanish-speaking, and undocumented immigrants – who lack a credit history and have minimal experience with credit card and retail installment agreements, officials said. 
In the lawsuit, Becerra alleges that Curacao engages in numerous and pervasive unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices.

Becerra alleges that Curacao takes advantage of consumers through:

■ Bait-and-switch advertising
■ Product bundling
■ Adding items and services to consumers’ contracts without their knowledge or consent
■ Failing to provide notice that translated contracts are available to consumers who negotiate in Spanish
■ Failing to tell consumers about return policies until after purchase
■ Failing to honor return policies
■ Failing to explain contract financing terms
■ Failing to tell consumers about important warranty terms
■ Failing to honor warranties
■ Harassing and threatening consumers who fall behind on their payments
■ Failing to properly serve consumer defendants in small claims cases

“Deceptive business practices take hard-earned dollars from the pockets of consumers and jeopardizes their economic security,” DCBA Director Brian J. Stiger said. “Our department is proud to work in collaboration with Attorney General Becerra and his office to help make sure the marketplace remains fair for consumers and businesses in Los Angeles County.”

Customers who believe they have been a victim of Curacao are encouraged to file a complaint with the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs and call investigator Esther Martinez at (213) 974-9770.