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Division of Consumer Affairs
Press Release

Attorney General
Anne Milgram
Division of Consumer Affairs, Director
David Szuchman
   
For Immediate Release:
September 3, 2009
For Further Information Contact:
Jeff Lamm, 973-504-6327
 

State Files Suit Against Brake-O-Rama Auto Repair Chain

NEWARK – The Office of the Attorney General through its Division of Consumer Affairs has filed suit against the Brake-O-Rama auto repair chain, alleging that the company’s repair shops charged consumers for work that was not performed, among other violations.

Yesterday, Superior Court Judge John F. Malone, presiding in Elizabeth, granted the state’s request for temporary restraints on Brake-O-Rama.

Brake-O-Rama, a Lodi-based company that operates 13 retail locations in New Jersey, also allegedly advertised and sold motor vehicle inspection services when its stores were not licensed by the state Motor Vehicle Commission to perform inspections.

“Brake-O-Rama broke the public’s trust by deceiving consumers about repairs that were paid for but never performed, “ Attorney General Anne Milgram said. “Our investigators found that the company did not even have the equipment to perform some of these services.”

The state’s five-count complaint, filed in State Superior Court in Union County, alleges that the Brake-O-Rama violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) by:

  • Charging consumers for automotive repairs not performed;
  • Performing faulty repairs, thus endangering the safety of consumers;
  • Misrepresenting to consumers that certain Brake-O-Rama shops could perform wheel alignments even when they lacked the necessary equipment;
  • Misrepresenting to consumers that certain Brake-O-Rama shops could perform coolant flushes, power steering flushes, or transmission flushes even when they lacked the necessary equipment;
  • Misrepresenting to consumers the work that was done on their vehicles;
  • Failing to disclose to consumers that Brake-O-Rama shops did not have the necessary equipment to perform certain repairs; and
  • Failing to disclose to consumers that they were paying Brake-O-Rama to take their vehicles to state facilities to be inspected because Brake-O-Rama shops were not licensed to perform such inspections.

The state alleges that Brake-O-Rama also violated the Automotive Repair Regulations and the Advertising Regulations by:

  • Failing to provide consumers with signed copies of estimates and/or invoices;
  • Failing to conspicuously post the required notice of consumer rights;
  • Inducing consumers to authorize additional repairs by promising to perform repairs that they did not have the equipment to complete; and
  • Misrepresenting on the Brake-O-Rama web site and elsewhere, that Brake-O-Rama stores could perform certain automotive repairs.

The state is seeking restitution for affected customers of Brake-O-Rama, future compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, civil penalties and reimbursement of its investigative and legal costs.

“Consumers struggling with their budgets in these tough economic times turn to repair shops to keep their vehicles on the road. Rather than help consumers get more miles out of their cars and trucks, Brake-O-Rama essentially robbed consumers by making them pay for services not provided,” said David Szuchman, Consumer Affairs Director.

State investigators in June, July and August inspected the company’s 13 shops, which are located at:

460 Brick Blvd. Brick, New Jersey 08723
240 Paterson Plank Road Carlstadt, New Jersey 07072
450 N. Broad Street Elizabeth, New Jersey 07207
1223 Ringwood Avenue Haskell, New Jersey 07420
1693 Route 37 East Island Heights, New Jersey 08732
2374 Kennedy Blvd. Jersey City, New Jersey 07304
495 St. George Ave. Linden, New Jersey 07203
Route 46 and West Lodi, New Jersey 07644
234 Scotland Rd. Orange, New Jersey 07050
475 Smith Street Perth Amboy, New Jersey 08862
260 Franklin Avenue Ridgewood, New Jersey 07450
307 S. Whitehorse Pike Stratford, New Jersey 08084
6100 Kennedy Blvd. West New York, New Jersey 07093

The temporary restraints ordered by Judge Malone, which Brake-O-Rama did not object to, prevent the company from:

  • Engaging in any acts or practices that violate the Consumer Fraud Act, the Automotive Repair Regulations and the Advertising Regulations;
  • Engaging in the advertisement and/or sale of automotive repair services including wheel alignments, transmission flushes, power steering flushes and coolant flushes, which Brake-O-Rama is unable to provide;
  • Engaging in the advertisement and/or sale of state vehicle inspection services which Brake-O-Rama is not licensed to provide;
  • Destroying, concealing, altering, transferring, disposing of or removing in an manner any books or records related to the advertisement and/or sale of automotive repair services; and
  • Failing to make and/or keep any books or records related to the advertisement and/or sale of automotive repair services.

Consumers can file complaints with the Division on its Web site at http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/ocp/ocpform.htm or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll-free within N.J.) or 973-504-6200.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Koziar of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section is representing the state in this action. Investigator Michael Bruch led the investigation on behalf of the Division.

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