SANTA ANA - Certified Tire and Services Center, Inc. has agreed to pay more than $1.4 million in civil penalties, plus restitution to victims, in a consumer protection settlement obtained by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA).
Following an investigation by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and OCDA, the suit alleged that Certified Tire and owner Jeffrey Darrow cheated customers and violated the terms of a 2008 injunction by selling unnecessary parts and services and charging for services that were never performed. The settlement was filed on Oct. 6, 2016.
"Maintaining a car is not only a necessity in our lives, for many individuals and families, it's a struggle," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "The consumer protection professionals at BAR work daily to investigate complaints and to help bring to justice those companies and individuals who set out to rip us off."
Certified Tire has 41 locations in California, primarily in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Its employees perform automotive maintenance and repair work and sell tires and other automotive parts. OCDA and BAR worked together in the investigation of the company after renewed complaints of unfair business practices following the 2008 injunction.
BAR and OCDA conducted numerous undercover car repair runs in Orange and Riverside Counties to uncover a renewed pattern of unfair business practices. In the undercover runs, investigators driving specially prepared cars not needing repairs went to Certified Tire stores for small services. Nearly all of the undercover runs resulted in recommendations for additional unnecessary repairs or included charges for services not performed. Certified Tire also deceptively advertised special discounts only available for customers with a Goodyear credit card. The company never admitted liability.
Certified Tire has agreed to pay over $1.4 million in civil penalties, plus restitution to victims, in the settlement. The judgment also includes strict injunctive terms barring Certified Tire from engaging in unfair or deceptive sales and service practices going forward, mandatory complaint processing mechanisms, and mandatory training for Certified Tire employees. Consumers who filed complaints with the BAR or Certified Tire between 2011 and Sept. 30, 2016, who have not already received restitution are eligible for restitution for faulty repairs or deceptive practices as a part of this settlement.