A New Jersey-based automotive repair chain took customers’ vehicles to state inspection sites, where inspections are free, and then charge their customers for the inspections. They also charged for jobs the shops were unable to perform due to lack of the proper equipment.
Below is the article as it appeared on the NorthJersey.com website.
Lodi-based auto repair chain settles
By KEVIN DEMARRAIS
A Lodi-based auto repair company has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle charges it billed customers for work that was not done, including wheel alignments for which it didn’t have the necessary equipment, and for charging for auto inspections it had done at free state inspection sites.
The agreement with Brake-O-Rama, which also did business as Jersey Automotive Warehouse, was announced Monday.
It settles a five-count complaint filed in Superior Court in Elizabeth in August by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
In the suit, brought under the Consumer Fraud Act, the auto repair company was accused of offering coolant flushes, power-steering purges, or power-steering flushes when some of its 13 locations lacked the necessary equipment.
In addition, Brake-O-Rama shops in Lodi, Ridgewood and other locations were allegedly advertising and selling motor vehicle inspection services when its locations were not licensed to do so. In fact, the Lodi store’s license had been revoked a year earlier, the state said.
What customers didn’t know was that Brake-O-Rama took the vehicles to state inspection sites, where inspections are free, even as it charged customers for the service, the state says in its court filing.
Although Brake-O-Rama made no admission of liability or wrongdoing, it did agree to revise its business practices and said it would not engage in any of the practices it had been accused of in the state’s suit.
The state sued Brake-O-Rama after an undercover investigation last June by inspectors from the Division of Consumer Affairs at the chain’s repair shops in Jersey City, Brick, Linden, West New York and Elizabeth.
The settlement calls for the company to pay $125,000 to the state in civil penalties, and reimburse the state for attorneys’ fees and investigative costs.
The $125,000 balance in civil penalties will be suspended for one year. During that period, the state can seek payment of the suspended penalty in the event Brake-O-Rama fails to comply with the settlement terms.
"We will act, as we did in this matter, when we believe New Jersey consumers have been taken advantage of and our consumer protection laws are violated," Attorney General Paula T. Dow said in a statement. "Particularly, in these tough financial times, every dollar matters to the consumer."
To read this article on the NorthJersey.com website, visit http://www.northjersey.com/news/crime_courts/92741204_Lodi_car_repair_shop_paying__250_000_to_settle_suit.html.