Pep Boys Fined For False Advertising

A sting operation by the State Bureau of Automotive Repair discovered that Manny, Moe & Jack weren't playing by the rules.KMPH FOX 26 News reporter Rich Rodriguez reports four Valley Pep Boys stores have been fined and must shut down their automotive shops for two days.Four Pep Boys stores in Fresno, Clovis, Modesto and Merced have been fined and must close down their automotive shops for two days starting Thursday.The lengthy investigation by the bureau of automotive repair was triggered by a customer complaint.Gilbert Sanchez with the bureau said, "Pep Boys advertised a free a/c inspection, when in fact it was not free. Our undercover operations were getting charged for work that should have been included in the free a/c inspection."The bureau of automotive repair used ten undercover vehicles at the four Valley Pep Boys.According to court documents, customers who brought their vehicles in for a free air conditioning inspection got little more than turning their unit on and off for free. In one case, the mechanic suggested that he check the Freon level but that was for an additional $39.95. The bureau determined that was false advertising.Pep Boys no longer advertises free a/c inspections.The state fined pep boys near $31,000 for the cost of the sting operation and the Fresno County District Attorney's office lowered the boom with a fine of $400,000.All four Pep Boys were ordered to close for two consecutive days and each store is also required to post a sign showing how long the automotive shop is suspended and what Pep Boys did wrong.The four Pep Boys stores in Clovis, Merced, Modesto and Fresno have been placed on probation for three years.Gilbert Sanchez with the Bureau of Automotive Repair says if they break the rules again, they could be closed down permanently.Pep Boys is based in Philadelphia and the corporate office offered this statement: "Pep Boys agreed to these store closures in order to settle an investigation conducted by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair in 2011. No customer was ever charged for pep boys advertised free a/c check and Pep Boys received no customer complaints regarding this free service. Rather the bureau and Pep Boys disagreed on the procedures required to be followed in conducting the a/c checks under the regulations."