NYC Councilman David G. Greenfield is asking the Department of Consumer Affairs to investigate whether some car washes in Brooklyn are overcharging for pre-Pesach cleanings. It is well known throughout the frum community that area car washes run “Passover Specials,” but it isn’t clear whether these limited-time offerings are a bargain or a way for local businesses to take advantage of a particular segment of the community.
“These are serious allegations and I have reached out to the Department of Consumer Affairs to request an investigation,” said Councilman Greenfield. “After receiving complaints about exorbitant prices for pre-Pesach car cleanings, my office investigated and I was, frankly, shocked to find that local merchants are exploiting members of the Jewish community in Brooklyn during such an important and already expensive holiday.”
Over the course of several days, members of Councilman Greenfield’s staff called over 40 car washes across Brooklyn to inquire about prices for an interior and exterior cleaning. In the course of their investigation, some staff members were asked if they were Jewish or if the cleaning was for Passover. On several occasions, staff members who replied affirmatively were quoted a different, more expensive price for the exact same set of services than those who indicated they were not Jewish or that the cleaning was not for Passover.
“Pre-Pesach cleaning is more than just spring cleaning,” explained Councilman Greenfield. “Observant Jews clean their homes and cars to ensure that there is no chametz, or leavened products, which are forbidden by the Torah during Pesach. I want to see our local businesses thrive, but I do not want their success to come at the expense of ripping off members of the community.”
One of the worst offenders, a major car wash on Coney Island Avenue, which advertises their pre-Pesach services aggressively in the Flatbush and Boro Park neighborhoods of Brooklyn, quoted a non-Jewish staff member a price of $75 to detail a mini-van that was described as incredibly dirty and in need of the car wash’s best possible cleaning service. That price included vacuuming, shampooing and waxing of the interior, but was only quoted after confirming that the caller was not Jewish. The day before, a Jewish staff member was only offered the “Passover Special” for a price of $100 for the exact same services-a nearly 35% markup.
“We’re sending a message to these business that it is unacceptable to exploit anyone based on their ethnicity or religious beliefs. As a community, we simply cannot tolerate pre-Pesach price gouging,” concluded Councilman Greenfield. “I encourage everyone to call and confirm the price of a car wash before heading over for a pre-Pesach cleaning. Once you’ve waited on line, and the car wash gives you a higher price, it is difficult to leave and go elsewhere.”