Pep Boys has agreed to revise its business practices and pay $80,000 to settle a state complaint that it overcharged at registers and didn't clearly mark prices, authorities said Friday.
The automotive retail chain, which has more than 40 retail locations in the state – including in Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Lodi and Paterson – agreed to several changes in its business practices, state Attorney General Christopher Porrino said.
- implementing a program to monitor pricing accuracies in its stores;
- conducting regular audits of its pricing;
- keeping a log of the audits for inspection by the state Division of Consumer Affairs;
- providing its general managers and other employees with training to ensure compliance with its pricing policies;
- designating a corporate compliance coordinator to oversee the compliance program.
Under the terms of a consent agreement with the state, Pep Boys will reimburse six consumers a total of $2,561.72 for repairs that were unnecessary and/or overcharged.
The company will also pay a $60,000 civil penalty and reimburse the state $14,462.42 in attorneys’ fees and $2,975.86 in investigative costs, Porrino said.
“Retail shopping shouldn’t be a guessing game, with consumers forced to wait until an item is scanned at the register to find out how much it costs,” Porrino said.
“We’re pleased that Pep Boys has agreed to comply with the law by providing New Jersey consumers with the accurate pricing information they need to comparison shop and make informed decision on how to spend their money,” he added.
Pep Boys is the last of seven New Jersey automotive parts retailers to settle allegations of pricing violations stemming from a joint investigation conducted by the Division's Office of Consumer Protection (“OCP”) and Office of Weights and Measures (“OWM”) in 2015.
Inspections of several Pep Boys stores “revealed that a variety of merchandise - from air fresheners to wheel cleaners – violated merchandise pricing laws,” Porrino said.
At another store, in Piscataway, unnecessary automotive repairs were made and then overcharged, the attorney general said. There were also “misleading or deceptive statements concerning the need for certain repairs,” he said.
Investigator Patrick Mullan in the Office of Consumer Protection and Enforcement Supervisor John McGuire in the Office of Weights and Measures conducted the Pep Boy’s investigation and other investigations of automotive parts retailers.
Deputy Attorney General Russell M. Smith, Jr. in the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law, prosecuted the cases.
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