From the Office of Christopher Porrino, NJ OAG
Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that “Pep Boys,” the auto parts and service retail chain, has agreed to revise its business practices and pay $80,000 in order to resolve a lawsuit alleging the chain engaged in merchandise pricing violations and other unfair or deceptive business practices at several retail stores across the state.
According to a civil Complaint filed by the State, Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack of Delaware, Inc., which does business as “Pep Boys” in more than 40 retail locations throughout the state, sold a variety of merchandise that scanned at the cash register for higher prices than were posted where the merchandise was displayed for sale; or failed to plainly mark the total selling price for merchandise either on the merchandise or where it is offered for sale.
“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,” said Attorney General Porrino. “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.”
In a Final Consent Judgment that resolves the State’s lawsuit, Pep Boys agreed to implement a program to monitor pricing accuracies in its stores; conduct regular audits of its pricing; and keep a log of the audits for inspection by the Division. Pep Boys will also provide its general managers and other employees with training to ensure compliance with its pricing policies. Additionally, Pep Boys will designate a corporate compliance coordinator to oversee the compliance program.
“The internal oversights Pep Boys has agreed to implement will help ensure the accuracy of Pep Boys’ price posting and checkout scanning,” said Sharon M. Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “The Division will continue to monitor New Jersey’s retail shopping industry to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive business practices.”
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 Pep Boys stores in East Brunswick, Union, Roselle, Caldwell, Verona, and Woodbury revealed that a variety of merchandise – from air fresheners to wheel cleaners – violated merchandise pricing laws.
Additionally, an inspection of the Pep Boys store in Piscataway revealed that the store performed and overcharged some consumers for unnecessary automotive repairs; and made misleading or deceptive statements concerning the need for certain repairs.
Under the terms of the Final Consent Judgment, 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.
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 represented the State in the Pep Boys and other automotive parts retailer matters.
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.