OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A class action claims that door-to-door computer salesmen target Spanish-speakers with predatory interest rates and financing. American General Finance, Hispanic Educational Inc. and Logic’s Consulting offer “spurious open-ended credit” without “statutorily mandated cancellation notices and other disclosures,” according to the complaint. The named plaintiff says she was charged 900 percent more than the computer is worth.
Suing for the class in Alameda County Court, Lucresia Cisneros claims the defendants preyed upon “unwary consumers,” particularly Spanish-speakers, with “undisclosed predatory interest rates and payment terms, and … financing to consumers by means of form contracts that fail to provide statutorily mandated cancellation notices and other disclosures.”
Cisneros says she has “limited ability to understand, speak, or read English.” She says a Spanish-speaking sales rep told her that he “was a professional educator,” and that a computer was “necessary” to her children’s education.
“The sales agent subjected plaintiff to precisely the kind of high-pressure and predatory sale tactics that California lawmakers have sought to remedy,” Cisneros says.
The salesman’s name is Miguel Rodas, according to the complaint.
Cisneros says she tried to refuse his “psychological intimidation,” but that he stayed at her house while she picked up her daughter from school: “he refused to leave, and persisted, misrepresenting, among other things, that the computer system was tax deductible and would end up being free after this deduction.”
Rodas told her “she would need to pay $118 per month over 24 months to cover her purchase of the computer system and required [her] to sign a document entitled ‘Convenio,’ (hereafter the ‘Home Solicitation Contract’),” according to the complaint.
Cisneros says she also was told to sign an agreement in English, which she could not understand, that “created a credit account to finance payment of the purchase price through American General Financial.”
She says the account agreement changed the terms of the home solicitation contract, “including the total price she would end up paying for the computer.”
Cisneros says she received a statement from American General showing that she had financed $2,800 at 21 percent interest.
That is far more than the Spanish-language deal she made, and would force her to pay $4,506 in 3 years – “a value far in excess (indeed more than 900 percent) of the original fair market value of the computer system itself, which was approximately $500,” according to the complaint.
Cisneros says she tried to cancel the deal, and offered to return computer and forfeit the money that she had paid, but American General refused to do it.
She claims the home solicitation contracts fail to inform customers of their right to cancel, and fail to include “essential finance terms, the monthly rate and the billing information, that were amended and/or otherwise imposed by means of the account agreement.”
She wants the defendants’ alleged scam declared “unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent,” and wants them enjoined from selling computer systems through “home solicitation contracts without notice of cancellation rights, [and] through use of spurious open-ended financing with material undisclosed financial terms.”
American General Financial Services dba American General Finance is a Delaware corporation based in Indiana.
Hispanic Educational Inc., based in Los Angeles County, “is in the business of retail sales of software and personal computers in California and arranging credit financing in connection with such sales.”
Logic’s Consulting, based in San Diego, is in the same business. They all “engaged in a door-to-door sales scheme … financed through credit accounts opened with American General Financial,” according to the complaint.
The class is represented by Bryan Kemnitzer with Kemnitzer, Barron and Krieg of San Francisco.