|For Immediate Release
Case # 30-2007-00100842
January 2, 2008
Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
EZ LUBE TO PAY $5 MILLION IN PENALTIES FOR DEFRAUDING CUSTOMERS BY CHARGING FOR UNNEEDED PARTS AND UNPERFORMED SERVICES
SANTA ANA – Orange County based automotive repair chain EZ Lube, Inc. (EZ Lube), has been ordered to pay $5 million in a civil settlement today for unfair business practices. EZ Lube’s employees were bilking customers by selling unnecessary parts and services and charging for services that were never performed. The settlement, signed on December 31, 2007 by Superior Court Judge David McEachen and the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA), outlines more than 30 injunctive terms and orders the defendant to pay $4 million to the County and $1 million to cover the cost of investigation and prosecution, and an unlimited amount of further restitution to repay defrauded customers who come forward at a later date.
Consumer complaints and further investigation uncovered a pattern of unfair and deceptive business practices at several EZ Lube locations where consumers were being sold unneeded parts and services. EZ Lube’s customers were misled during the invoicing and estimate procedures and were charged for services that were never preformed.
The injunctive terms prevent EZ Lube from: selling or invoicing unperformed or unnecessary services or parts and imposing quotas on employees to sell a minimum amount of service.
The terms further require EZ Lube to: giving proper paperwork documents and posting a sign informing the customer’s right to see the removed parts; giving written estimate of job and recording all work performed; providing the manufacturer’s recommendation based on the customer’s car model and odometer reading; installing a video camera to allow customers to monitor the work being done and saving the video for 90 days; performing only oil changes for five days and posting a sign about the restriction in 30 stores where they had actual violation; and paying restitution to anyone with a legitimate claim over the past five years.
EZ Lube will be on probation for the next five years and the injunctive terms will be permanent. EZ Lube has admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement agreement.
“Anyone who has been defrauded should report their experience to law enforcement. We cannot stop the fraud unless people are willing to come forward and report the violation,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “As consumers, we should be proactive in protecting ourselves. Watch the monitor to see work being performed, insist on asking for all estimates in writing, ask for the manufacturer’s recommendations, and insist on seeing and keeping the parts after the work is finished.”
“This settlement should serve as a warning to all those in the automotive repair industry to deal with consumers in an honest manner,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
If you believe you have been sold services by EZ Lube that were not provided or were unnecessary, you may contact the OCDA at (714) 648-3637. A copy of the Final Judgment of the case is available upon request.