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AG Horne Announces A New Program Of Sting Operations Produces First Consent Judgement

PHOENIX (Monday, October 17, 2011) -- Attorney General Tom Horne today announced that his first auto repair “sting” has resulted in a $40,494.63 Consent Judgment against Econo-Lube N. Tune, Inc., a Delaware corporation that owns and operates Econo-Lube N’Tune & Brakes and Meineke locations throughout the United States. The Meineke/Econolube location at 6829 N. 7th Street in Phoenix was selected as the subject of the AG’s investigation as a result of consumer complaints.

Horne stated. “Our ongoing sting operations, of which auto repair is only one subcategory, will protect not only consumers, but also ethical business people who don’t want to compete with unethical ones. It will encourage honest business practices with all consumers, because unethical business owners will not know if the next person through the door is from the Attorney General’s office.”

In its Complaint, the State alleged that:

  • On July 13, 2011, an undercover agent took a vehicle needing a minor repair (under $10) to its air conditioning system to the Meineke/Econolube at 6829 N. 7th Street in Phoenix;
  • Prior to providing a written estimate, the Meineke/Econolube store manager, Scott Michael Bragg, was recorded on video discovering the minor needed repair, yet provided an estimate for unneeded parts and labor totaling $650.00;
  • On a subsequent visit, a Meineke/Econolube technician, Eduardo A. Gastelum, again examined the vehicle and informed the undercover agent that the $650.00 repair was needed; and
  • The technician, Eduardo A. Gastelum, was also caught on video discovering that the vehicle needed only a minor repair and yet failed to reveal it to the undercover agent, charging him $726.00 for unnecessary parts and labor.

The State alleged that Econo-Lube N’Tune, Inc. and its agents violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act by recommending, performing and charging for the unnecessary repair to the State’s undercover vehicle. Under the terms of the Consent Judgment, which does not constitute an admission of liability and must receive final approval from the Court, Econo-Lube N’Tune, Inc. will pay the State $30,000 in civil penalties and $10,494.63 in costs and attorneys’ fees. In addition Econo-Lube N’Tune, Inc. has agreed to no longer employ Scott Michael Bragg or Eduardo A. Gastelum and to institute a program for its employees designed to prevent deceptive practices.

Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Salisbury handled this case.

Click here to view video of a sting operation.