The New York Attorney General has reached settlements with four automotive service companies-including Firestone MasterCare & Tire Services, Goodyear and Monro Muffler Brake Inc.-for misleading oil change advertising.
In a statement, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said the companies ``advertised one price in large, bold print but tacked on an additional fee that was inadequately disclosed to consumers.'' The four companies, which also include Buffalo Lube Associates L.P. that operates Valvoline Instant Oil Change shops, agreed to collectively pay more than $140,000 in civil penalties and costs to the state.
``It is misleading to advertise low prices and then increase the overall cost to consumers by tacking on inadequately disclosed fees,'' Mr. Spitzer said in the statement. ``It is important that companies be held to the prices for which they advertise their goods and services.''
A Goodyear spokesman said its portion of the settlement is $11,564. The company admitted no wrongdoing or liability in reaching the settlement, he said, and in fact the company feels it properly disclosed its oil filter disposal fee. Goodyear halted the fee in New York in July 2003, but it still applies in other states.
``It was not a hidden charge,'' the spokesman told Tire Business. ``It was fully disclosed to consumers, not hidden in any way.'' He added that the fee helps offset the cost of contracting outside vendors to dispose of the filters.
The attorney general said all four companies have agreed to cease charging the fees-such as environmental fees, oil filter disposal fees or storage and disposal fees-since the office began its investigation.
Firestone has 61 shops in New York state, Goodyear has 50 and Monro operates 143. Buffalo Lube has 16 locations in western New York.
Calls to Bridgestone/Firestone and Monro were not immediately returned.