SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Following a year-long undercover investigation and consumer complaints of alleged automotive service fraud, California's Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Auto-motive Repair (BAR) suspended seven company-owned Tire Pros stores in Southern California for three business days, Nov. 18-20. Tire Pros agreed to the suspension in a stipulated settlement without admitting any of the misconduct charged by the BAR.
The suspension—which did not affect any of the Simi Valley, Calif.-based dealership's franchise stores—resulted from BAR charges that Tire Pros oversold brakes and front-end suspension components to customers, and billed for some repairs and services never performed.
Responding to the BAR's action, Tire Pros President Dennis Mangola said he ordered an internal investigation of the allegations which, when completed, did not support the agency's charges.
``In fact, the company investigation disclosed many inconsistencies in the investigative process and further demonstrated investigative practices that bordered on entrapment,'' Tire Pros said in a statement.
Acting on the advice of its attorneys, Tire Pros said it agreed to cooperate to settle the matter and avoid the publicity of defending itself in a court trial.
According to the BAR agreement, the seven stores will be on probation for three years, and Tire Pros must reimburse the BAR for $55,000 in investigative costs.
Tire Pros' statement further pointed out the settlement documents from the BAR did not contain any reference to public disclosure of the terms of the agreement.
``Had Tire Pros management been made aware of the intended press release,'' it said, ``they would have not entered into the agreement, but rather defended themselves in court where they felt they would have prevailed.''