Maybe your next car shouldn’t be Mercedes-Benz, even if you can easily afford one.
Writing on his LA Jewish Journal blog, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein tells the story of a Jewish woman who married into a wealthy and prominent Jewish family in Los Angeles.
She had maids and lived in luxury in Beverly Hills but her husband repeatedly beat her until, recently, she finally left him. But he found her, beat her again, and allegedly threatened her with a gun.
That incident resulted in a restraining order against him.
She also wanted a Jewish bill of divorce known as get. He refused.
The Jewish Divorce Assistance Center of Los Angeles (JDACLA) and another group not identified by Bookstein (it was likely ORA) threatened to place billboards around city identifying him as a get-refuser. That caused the man to give his wife her get. But she still lives in fear of him.
And she’s been reduced to near-poverty. Bookstein says his synagogue’s Domestic Violence Victims Fund raised money to keep her from being evicted from her apartment.
The woman drives a Mercedes she leased before she left her abusive husband. She can’t afford the lease and wanted Mercedes to let her out of it without penalty, which Mercedes apparently agreed to do if all the payments she’d missed since leaving her abusive husband were paid in full.
The Jewish community raised money to pay Mercedes. But Mercedes, upset that her payment for the past due balance was made one day late, is allegedly voiding the lease and charging her for the entire lease, not just the past due balance.
Why was that payment late?
Allegedly because Mercedes wouldn’t accept the payment from Bookstein’s synagogue and JDACLA online or over the phone. Bookstein writes that “we even tried walking over the check to the dealership,” but Mercedes refused to take the money.
The woman’s attorney called Mercedes to see if it would grant a one-day extension. It allegedly refused to do so.
The attorney claims he “repeatedly told [the Mercedes rep] that the Rabbi attempted to make payment and call, and that it was denied or declined. [The Mercedes rep] responded that you cannot make payment in dealerships, and that the protocol is to refer people to financial, and no one made payment to financial. [The Mercedes rep went on to say] the current lease is now broken and they will take the car and sell it, and [the abused woman] will be responsible for the remainder [of the lease]. She refused to back down from her position. She also said [the abused woman] can try to refinance, but I told her we all know that [the abused woman’s] credit is probably not very good at the moment. I said that they were clearly taking advantage of [the abused woman] and attempting to leverage an unfair profit out of her. [The Mercedes rep] would simply deflect by saying that someone was attempting to make arrangements to make payment or was calling Mercedes on the day that [the abused woman] claimed she was in the hospital.”
In other words, the abused woman was hospitalized – allegedly for a surgical procedure – the day the payment period expired.
Bookstein contacted Mercedes USA via Twitter and asked it to remedy the situation. It allegedly did not reply. It also allegedly failed to respond to written communication from the abused woman’s attorney.
Bookstein is asking people to contact the new CEO of Mercedes USA, Dietmar Exler, and ask him to rectify the situation.