January 7, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
OFFICE REACHES AGREEMENT WITH MERCHANT'S TIRE AND AUTO OVER ALLEGATIONS
THAT CONSUMERS DIDN'T GET PURCHASED PARTS OR SERVICES
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer
Protection Division has reached a settlement agreement with the
company that owns Merchant's Tire & Auto Centers over allegations
that some consumers paid for automotive parts or services that the
centers did not actually provide. Thousands of Maryland consumers
will be eligible for restitution under the settlement. Merchant's,
Inc., of 9073 Euclid Avenue, Manassas, VA, operates auto repair
facilities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, including 26 locations
Consumer Protection Division alleged that Merchant's sold automobile
parts and services without actually installing all of the parts.
Specifically, the Division alleged that Merchant's sold brake services
with hardware without actually replacing the existing brake hardware.
The Division also alleged that Merchant's sold transmission services
that required it to replace the transmission filters in consumers'
vehicles, but it did not actually replace the filters. Merchant's
denied the allegations, but cooperated in the Division's investigation
and agreed to address the Division's concerns. The company further
stated that the failure to install brake hardware does not raise
a safety issue.
settlement agreement reached between Merchant's and the Division
provides that all Maryland consumers who purchased brake services
with hardware after January 1, 1998, but did not receive an invoice
from Merchant's reflecting installation of the hardware, are eligible
to receive $60. Merchant's has also agreed to provide those consumers
with an extended warranty on their brakes. All Maryland consumers
with cars that had replaceable automatic transmission filters who
purchased transmission service after January 1, 1998, but did not
receive an invoice reflecting the installation of the transmission
filter, are eligible to receive a restitution payment of $64.26.
The settlement also requires Merchant's to pay the Division a $150,000
civil penalty, an additional $100,000 payment to be used for consumer
education, and $65,000 for its costs and attorney's fees.
settlement agreement also requires Merchant's to return all used
parts it removes from consumers' vehicles to consumers so that they
will be assured that the parts they purchase are actually installed
in their vehicles. In the settlement agreement, Merchant's further
agreed to install a new point of sale computer system in
each of its Maryland stores that will require its employees to document
in consumers' invoices all parts they install in consumers' vehicles.
auto repair company must provide all the parts and services a customer
pays for," said Attorney General Curran. "This settlement
will help to ensure that happens in the future and that relief is
provided to consumers."
who are eligible to receive restitution under the settlement will
be contacted by the Attorney General's Office.