|For Immediate Release
May 12, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
CAR REPAIR AND PARTS CHAIN TO PAY $550,000 IN CONSUMER PROTECTION SETTLEMENT
FOR CHEATING CUSTOMERS WITH
UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES
A $550,000 settlement has been obtained against an automotive repair and parts chain for cheating customers using unfair business practices. The Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino District Attorney’s Offices initiated a consumer protection action against Certified Tire and Services Center, Inc. (Certified Tire) and owner Jeffrey Darrow for bilking customers by selling unnecessary parts and services and charging for services that were never performed. The settlement, signed May 8, 2008 by San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge W. Robert Fawke, employs strict injunctive terms and orders the defendant to pay $550,000 to the Counties in civil penalties and costs of investigation and prosecution, as well as additional restitution to repay defrauded customers who have verified and legitimate claims.
Certified Tire has 19 locations in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. The Certified Tires stores perform automotive maintenance and repair work and sell tires and other automotive parts. After following up on consumer complaints filed with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), an investigation into the business practices of Certified Tire revealed that employees of Certified Tire were systematically selling customers parts and services that the customer did not need and failing to perform services for which the customer had paid.
Certified Tire has been ordered to pay $550,000 in civil penalties and has agreed to strict injunctive terms barring it from engaging in unfair or deceptive sales and service practices in the future. Certified Tire, who has admitted no fault or liability, is required to send a mailing to all customers who have filed a complaint against the company offering the opportunity to receive a refund if the customer has a legitimate claim. To be eligible for a refund or restitution, consumers who feel they have been a victim of Certified Tire must have filed a complaint with the BAR, Better Business Bureau (BBB), their County District Attorney’s Office, or Certified Tire between January 2002 and March 2008. More than 400 complaints were made to the BAR and BBB during this time. Certified Tire must show proof to the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office that the mailing has been sent and all legitimate claims have been paid.
This case was prosecuted by Orange County Deputy District Attorney Tracy Hughes, Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Robert Spira, and San Bernardino County Lead Deputy District Attorney Glenn Yabuno.