New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Files Actions Alleging Unlawful Pricing Practices at Advance Auto and Pep Boys Stores
NEWARK – The New Jersey Division Consumer Affairs, through its Office of Consumer Protection and its Office of Weights and Measures, has filed actions against Advance Stores Company, Inc., d/b/a "Advance Auto" stores, and Pep Boys – Manny Moe & Jack of Delaware, Inc., d/b/a "Pep Boys," both of which sell auto parts and perform auto repairs at their retail locations throughout New Jersey.
The civil complaints, filed in Essex County Superior Court, are the result of a joint initiative by the Division's Office of Consumer Protection and Office of Weights and Measures, designed to ensure that automotive parts stores comply with consumer laws regarding price scanning, disclosure of merchandise pricing, and notices as to the right to a written estimate for automotive repairs. As part of this initiative, the Division inspected seven stores operated by Advance Stores and five stores operated by Pep Boys in New Jersey.
"For many consumers, a trip to the automotive parts store can be a confusing foray into unfamiliar territory. Shoppers who lack familiarity with such merchandise often rely on the retailers pricing statements to guide them in their purchases. When retailers are not transparent and accurate in their pricing, consumers suffer," said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman.
Advance Stores operates its Advance Auto stores throughout the State, including East Orange, Newark, Linden, East Brunswick, Bloomfield, Avenel, and Fanwood. As a result of the Division's inspections, these stores were found to have a variety of merchandise – from oil filters, transmission fluid, engine oil and polish – that scanned at a higher price than the posted selling price, in violation of both the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) and the Weights and Measures Act. Further, the Complaint alleges that merchandise at the Advance Auto stores in East Orange, Newark, Linden, Bloomfield, Avenel, and Fanwood was offered for sale without a plainly marked total selling price affixed to the merchandise or located at the point of display, in violation of the CFA. The merchandise without the plainly marked total selling price included a stainless steel self-tapping pan head, anti-freeze, snowbrush, deicer and lubricant, repair manuals, engine oil and windshield washer.
Pep Boys operates stores throughout the State, including East Brunswick, Union, Roselle, Caldwell and Verona. As a result of the Division's inspections, these stores were found to have a variety of merchandise, including a car cover, cell phone charger, battery terminal protector, automatic transmission fluid and halogen capsules, that scanned at a price higher than the posted selling price, in violation of the CFA and the Weights and Measures Act. The Complaint also alleges that merchandise at the Pep Boys stores in East Brunswick, Roselle, Caldwell and Verona was offered for sale without a plainly marked selling price, in violation of the CFA. Such merchandise included air fresheners, tires, license plate mounts and motor oil. Additionally, the Complaint alleges that the Pep Boys stores in Roselle, Caldwell and Verona failed to conspicuously post the consumer notice regarding the right to a written estimate for motor vehicle repairs, as required by the Automotive Repair Regulations.
"When it came to merchandise pricing, we allege that Advance Auto and Pep Boys left consumers in the dark," said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. "These enforcement actions send a message that merchants who attempt to engage in this kind of deceptive conduct will face legal action."
Through these Complaints, the Division is seeking civil penalties under both the CFA and the Weights and Measures Act, and attorneys' fees and investigative costs.
Investigator Patrick Mullan in the Division's Office of Consumer Protection and Enforcement Supervisor John McGuire in the Office of Weights and Measures conducted the Advance Stores and Pep Boys investigations.
Deputy Attorney General Russell M. Smith in the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law is representing the State in these actions.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse,
can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting
its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
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