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May 4, 10

NEWS / Brake-O-Rama Auto Repair Shops and State Reach Settlement

NEWARK – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Acting Consumer Affairs Director Sharon Joyce today announced that the Brake-O-Rama auto repair chain has agreed to a $250,000 settlement with the state, and also will revise its business practices, under a Consent Judgment that resolves a lawsuit filed by the Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs last August.

Brake-O-Rama, a Lodi-based company that operates 13 retail locations in New Jersey, allegedly charged consumers for repair work that was not actually performed. Brake-O-Rama also allegedly advertised and sold motor vehicle inspection services when its stores were not licensed by the state Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to perform inspections.

Pursuant to the settlement, Brake-O-Rama has agreed to pay $125,000 to the state in civil penalties, and reimburse the state for attorneys’ fees and investigative costs. The civil penalties will be suspended for a one-year period during which time, the state can seek payment from the balance in the event Brake-O-Rama fails to comply with the settlement terms. In entering into the settlement, Brake-O-Rama made no admission of liability or wrongdoing.

“We will act, as we did in this matter, when we believe New Jersey consumers have been taken advantage of and our consumer protection laws are violated. Particularly, in these tough financial times, every dollar matters to the consumer,” Attorney General Dow said.

The state filed suit against Brake-O-Rama last August following a series of inspections by Consumer Affairs’ investigators.

Under terms of the Consent Judgment, Brake-O-Rama agreed to:

* Not engage in the advertisement and/or sale of automotive repair services including, but not limited to, wheel alignments, transmission flushes, power steering flushes and coolant flushes, which Brake-O-Rama lacks the necessary equipment or is otherwise unable to perform;
* Not charge consumers for automotive repairs that are not performed;
* Not represent to consumers that a Brake-O-Rama location can perform certain automotive repairs, when such location lacks the necessary equipment to perform such repairs;
* Not represent to consumers that certain automotive repairs were performed, when such is not the case;
* Not engage in the advertisement and/or sale of motor vehicle inspection services which Brake-O- Rama is not licensed by MVC to perform;
* Not charge consumers for motor vehicle inspection services, then take the motor vehicle to a MVC operated inspection facility;
* Not represent that any Brake-O-Rama location is a vehicle inspection facility, if such location does not possess the necessary license from MVC to perform such inspections;
* Not induce consumers to authorize additional automotive repairs by representing that it would perform repairs that it lacked the necessary equipment to perform;
* Provide consumers with a written estimate or obtain from consumers prior written authorization or oral approval to proceed with automotive repairs;
* Provide consumers with signed copies of estimates and/or invoices;
* Conspicuously post the notice of consumer rights; and
* Take all reasonable steps to ensure that each and every motor vehicle presented for repairs is evaluated and repaired in a manner consistent with all industry standards.

“These agreed-to business practices will ensure that consumers get the services that they pay for,” Acting Director Joyce said.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Koziar of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section represented the state in this action.




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