Commonwealth of Virginia
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CONSUMERS TO RECEIVE REFUNDS UNDER SETTLEMENT WITH RICHMOND TIRE SHOP OVER "BAIT AND SWITCH" ADVERTISING
~Shockoe Bottom Tires agrees to provide refunds to affected consumers who file complaints with OAG by August 7, 2017 ~
RICHMOND(March 6, 2017) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced today that he has reached a settlement with Shockoe Bottom Automotive & Tires, Inc., a Richmond-based seller of tires and alignment services, for alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Commonwealth's "bait and switch" statute.
In his lawsuit filed in June 2016, Attorney General Herring alleged that Shockoe Bottom Automotive (which also goes by "Shockoe Bottom Tires" and "Emerald Tires") advertised price deals for tires and alignment services on its website and storefront that it refused to honor with its customers. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Shockoe Bottom Tires:
- Advertised tires for sale on the front of its building for $25, but failed to honor that price with consumers who purchased tires at the shop;
- Posted coupons, in the store and online, offering tires "buy 3 get 1 free," then refused to honor those terms; and
- Advertised a tire alignment service as included with the price of tires, but refused to provide the alignment service to consumers who purchased tires.
The settlement contains the following key terms:
Shockoe Bottom Tires agrees to provide refunds to Virginia consumers who file a complaint and who suffered "monetary harm" on or after September 1, 2013, including any amount paid at Shockoe Bottom Tires' East Main St. location:
1. in excess of $25 for any tire purchased;
2. for a fourth tire where three tires were purchased at one time;
3. for an alignment where the consumer purchased two or more tires and sought but did not receive a free alignment; or
4. any other charges incurred as a result of Shockoe Bottom Tires' failure to honor its advertised terms or price(s).
- In order to qualify for reimbursement, consumers must file a qualifying complaint with the Virginia Attorney General's Office by August 7, 2017. The Attorney General's Office will review subsequent complaints filed and determine whether those complaints qualify for restitution.
- A permanent ban to prevent Shockoe Bottom Tires from engaging in violations of the Consumer Protection Act and the state's "bait and switch" statute and a requirement that Shockoe Bottom Tires conform all of its written signage, coupons, posting, or other advertisements to the Consumer Protection Act;
- Shockoe Bottom Tires agrees to pay the Commonwealth a $1,500 civil penalty and $3,000 for reimbursement of the Commonwealth's attorneys' fees and costs.
"Honest advertising is one of the most basic requirements of doing business in Virginia. Consumers have a right to rely on the advertisements and representations a company makes. A business can't just advertise one price then charge customers more when they actually arrive at the door," said Attorney General Herring. "In order to be eligible for restitution consumers must file a complaint by August 7, so I'd encourage any consumer who thinks they may be eligible to contact my Consumer Protection Section as quickly as possible."
To be considered for restitution, consumers who believe they have been victimized by these practices are encouraged to file written complaints including documentation of their purchase from Shockoe Bottom Tires with the Virginia Attorney General's Office:
- By phone: (800) 552-9963
- Online: Online Contact Form/Online Complaint Form
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Herring and his recently reorganized Consumer Protection Section have launched a weeklong campaign to help Virginians understand their rights as consumers, and to help Virginia businesses understand their responsibilities to their customers. His consumer protection section has successfully brought enforcement actions against predatory lenders, retailers exploiting veterans and military families, fake charities, and anti-competitive mergers. During Attorney General Herring's administration the OAG Consumer Protection Section has won orders for approximately $147 million in consumer debt forgiveness, $24.8 million in restitution, and $32 million in civil penalties and attorneys' fees, and transferred nearly $7 million to the Commonwealth's General Fund.
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