Bassi is a resident of New Jersey for 30 years, and is suing the dealership for $1.26 million USD (approx. $1.63 million CAD)
Car dealerships should be a place where customers are treated like gold, considering people are typically spending tens of thousands of dollars to walk away with a new vehicle. One unfortunate man from New Jersey was reportedly treated like a common criminal recently, when he was accused of having ties to the Taliban.
According to NJ.com, 50-year-old Surjeet Bassi was looking to trade in his Mercedes-Benz ML350 for a newer model. When he went to New Jersey-based Prestige Mercedes-Benz, though he was ultimately told he came from a "high-risk area" where people buy cars and export them to the Taliban.
Bassi, who has lived in New Jersey for the last 30 years, is suing the dealership for $1.26 million USD (approx. $1.63 million CAD). He claims that he was denied the vehicle even after negotiating a price for several hours, passing a credit check, and putting a $1,000 USD down payment on his credit card.
"Bassi explained that he was an East Asian Indian and he was not related in any way to the Taliban," the lawsuit states. Regardless of this, the dealership still refused to sell him the Mercedes. The lawsuit claims "racial stereotyping, premised on plaintiff's race and appearance" and alleges the "same behavior would never have been engaged in had plaintiff been a white citizen of the United States."
In a statement, Prestige Mercedes-Benz spokesperson Theresa V. Boylan stated that the dealership "values its relationships with customers and prospective customers. As a company, we do not condone discriminatory practices or conduct."
The lawsuit is still pending.