Jump to content

Canadian's File Discrimination Complaint Against American Dealers

Recommended Posts


BANGOR, Maine - A Canadian couple who say they were turned down dozens of times when they tried to buy a new car in the United States are challenging what they regard as illegal discrimination.

Rhonda Chancey and Allan Coombs, a married couple from Paradise, Nfld., claim that more than 80 New England dealerships, including 61 in Maine, refused their business.

Chancey and Coombs filed a discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and plan to sue five car companies. Similar complaints are planned in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to the couple's lawyer, Stephanie Jazlowiecki of Topsham.

Jazlowiecki said General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge were seeking to maximize profits by not allowing Canadians to take advantage of their strong dollar and buy new cars in the United States, where prices are much lower.

"The dealerships' uniform denial of sales of new vehicles to Canadian citizens is a blatant pattern and practice of nation of origin discrimination," Jazlowiecki told the Bangor Daily News.

"Individual dealerships claim they are not allowed or that it is illegal to sell to Canadians. But this would appear to be a patent violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as federal anti-competition statutes," she said.

Automakers impose the same rule on Canadian dealerships, barring U.S. residents from buying vehicles when the dollar is particularly strong, Jazlowiecki said.

Chancey and Coombs visited most of the dealerships and e-mailed some of them in the last two months, Jazlowiecki said.

In many cases, sales staff only became aware of the manufacturer's rule against selling to Canadians when they tried to go forward with a transaction, the lawyer said. She said dealers were permitted to sell the couple a used vehicle.

Savings can be significant. A $40,000 Cadillac Escalade in the United States now fetches about $80,000 in Canada, Jazlowiecki said.

Last month, consumer advocacy groups in Canada filed a class-action lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court seeking $2 billion in general damages and $100 million in punitive damages from General Motors, Honda, Chrysler and Nissan for allegedly fixing car prices 25 per cent to 35 per cent higher in Canada than in the United States.

Jazlowiecki said her clients' case could also warrant class-action status. She said she has "been getting calls left and right" from Canadians who also have tried unsuccessfully to purchase cars in the U.S.

Chancey and Coombs finally did buy a car, a 2008 Pontiac Torrent. A relative in New Hampshire purchased it for them at a local dealership and then sold it to the couple.

Even though they had to pay transfer tax and sales tax twice, the vehicle was still cheaper than it would have been in Canada, Jazlowiecki said.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

AGAIN, nobody was complaining when Tahoes and Suburbans were $5-10k cheaper in Canada, which only 5 years ago they were. We used to have to check a GM website with a list of known exporters if someone wanted to pay cash for those high demand vehicles because GM was offsetting the true costs when the $C was .65.

The lawyers are being very disingenuous here: by the time (if) the case goes to Court, the market will have normalized prices. Dealers cannot be held responsible because they are only following their franchise Agreements. The case is frivolous and will be bounced. Here's why: If, for example, police raid a 'cat house' and arrest 10 'patrons' as 'found-ins' and then arrest the 'workers' as 'keepers,' no Judge can hold trials for any of the 'found-ins' until it has been proven in Court that the 'keepers' were keeping a bawdy house. Sometimes the law makes sense.

Only the lawyers benefit in these cases and, of course, the media sells more papers (or advertising space on websites that pop up) while they whip up this new Cause-of-the-Month.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dealers cannot be held responsible because they are only following their franchise Agreements.

sounds like the "we were just following orders" argument soldiers make when accused of war crimes. and just like those cases where the soldier can't be forced to follow an illegal order, a contractee cannot be forced to follow an illegal contract, which these contracts would be if they are found to be legally discriminatory.

AGAIN, nobody was complaining when Tahoes and Suburbans were $5-10k cheaper in Canada, which only 5 years ago they were.

so because American's weren't complaining 5 years ago, Canadian's can't complain now? Thats DISCRIMINATION! :P I remember checking out prices on a Camaro 6-7 years ago and IIRC, the Camaro was still cheaper in the US, even though our dollar was in the toilet.

all in all, I agree this discrimination claim is BS, but I believe it shines attention again on the claim of price fixing by companies in the Canadian market

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Catch me up here folks I don't know much about the law (specifcally international law) How is someone who holds no status in a country able to sue in that country?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Frivolous. Non-citizens have no status. It's like complaining that a Canadian shouldn't be refused entry into the U.S. for having a criminal record. HELLO - it's a different country down there. What I don't understand with all of these accusations of 'price fixing' and anti-competitive conspiracies is that it strikes me that a bunch of slap happy lawyers are just jumping on the bandwagon here. Where is it written (perhaps the 11th Commandment?) that it is a consumer's God-given right to buy a certain product? If you're not happy with the prices of, say, a Nike runner and suspect they are 'price fixing,' then buy an Adidas. Sheesh.

Seriously, where does all this end? Hey, maybe I should sue because no one will sell me a penthouse over-looking Central Park at a price I want to pay! :hissyfit:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Attention is growing. We are starting to see price reduction announcements from major retailers (e.g. Walmart, Zellers). Hopefully they are following up with action (I was looking at appliances the other day and Sears.ca and Sears.com were fairly close on a number of them).

Either way consumers are taking notice and are going to start making more demands.

I don't know the merit of this particular lawsuit, but I look forward to the end of the extortion of the Canadian automakers. That, or a US BMW 335xi.

Spread the word: Anyone who buys a car (that they don't absolutely need) from a Canadian dealership is an idiot. If you work for or own a Canadian dealership and you don't like it, you know to whom you should be complaining.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Who's Online   2 Members, 0 Anonymous, 27 Guests (See full list)

About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We ♥ Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets



Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.