New Jersey Sues Pep Boys for Overcharging

It alleges several infractions regarding price and the right to a written estimate for car repairs.

The state of New Jersey is alleging foul play by two of the nation’s largest auto repair chains.

Philadelphia-based Pep Boys and Virginia’s Advance Auto Parts have been sued for allegedly overcharging customers in the Garden State. The suit comes just days after Pep Boys agreed to be sold to Carl Icahn for approximately $1 billion and comes from the New Jersey Division Consumer Affairs, through its Office of Consumer Protection and its Office of Weights and Measures.

Both businesses sell auto parts and perform auto repairs at retail locations throughout New Jersey. The suit comes as part of an initiative “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.” 

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in a statement that automotive parts stores can be a “confusing foray into unfamiliar territory” and that “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.”

The state claims that Pep Boys stores in East Brunswick, Union, Roselle, Caldwell and Verona were found to have a variety of merchandise “that scanned at a price higher than the posted selling price” and that four of those stores offered merchandise for sale without a plainly marked selling price. It also found that three of the stores “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.”

It also found that several Advance Auto stores had items that scanned at higher prices than the sale price, and had merchandise on sale without the sale prices being plainly marked.

“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.”

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