HUNTINGTON, NY — When Lauren and Marshall Kitain went to lease a new Acura MDX at Acura of Huntington recently, they had the choice of many options. However, one thing not on the list is an add-on they got anyway: Ants.
“I started noticing one to two small black ants crawling across the interior,” Kitain said. She first noticed the ants just two days after getting the SUV home. “I didn’t think much of it at the time.”
She first noticed the ants just two days after getting the SUV home. However, within a week it developed into a full blown infestation.
“There were hundreds if not thousands of ants,” she said. “My four4-and-a-half year old daughter discovered them after pre-school pickup.”
Kitain shot cell phone videos of ants crawling underneath the seats and around the doors.
“They were pouring out of the car,” she said.
Her husband called the dealership and was told to bring the car in.
The General Manager of the dealership suggested the ants may have come from the area around the Kitain’s home in Scarsdale. The denied it and said they kept the car in a clean garage. The Kitains believe the ants could have come from wherever the car was stored for the five months between the time it was delivered to the dealership and the time it was sold to them.
Marshall Kitain was given a loaner to take back to their home. The service department kept the MDX for fours days. Its report says that after inspecting, cleaning and detailing the SUV, there was “no insect activity present inside or outside the vehicle.”
The dealership’s General Manager, Joseph Bellavia, told Mr. Kitain to return the loaner and pick up the SUV. Lauren Kitain didn’t want to.
“I want a new car or I want them to end the lease and give me my money back,” she said.
But Mr. Kitain says the GM said “if we did not return the loaner” and pick up the MDX that afternoon, “he threatened to call the police on us and report the car stolen.”
So the Kitains returned the loaner and picked up their SUV.
“We got the car immediately back and there were ants, so obviously they missed it” Kitain said.
It wasn’t an infestation, but she says she saw 40-50 ants over a two-day period. After they told the GM what they’d found, they say he told them he might be willing to buy the SUV back from them, but not at the same price they paid for it. He allegedly said the depreciation on the $41,000 Acura MDX could be between $5,000 and $7.000.
“A car we had for two weeks with an ant problem is going to cost us $7,000? That’s insane,” Kitain said.
She contacted “What a Shame” at PIX11 and we went with her to see Mr. Bellavia at the dealership on Jericho Turnpike in Huntington.
“Do you want to comment on selling her a car with ants?” I asked him.
He said, “I’m working on trying to buy them out of the car.”
He said he’d like to have a conversation with Ms. Kitain and I could stay and listen, but “may I first ask you to the turn the camera off”? We did.
The next day, Mr. Kitain told me the good news.
“Less than 24 hours after you paid him a visit, the GM did a 180 degree turn and offered a full refund, 100 percent, including taxes and fees. It would not have happened without your help, Arnold, I am sure of that. Thank you.”
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