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Brown Reaches $1.8 Million Settlement with Owner of 22 Midas Auto Shops Over Massive Bait-and-Switch Scheme
Oakland - Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a $1.8 million settlement preventing Maurice Irving Glad, owner of 22 Midas auto shops throughout California, from owning or operating an auto repair shop in the state, after the franchisee “deceptively lured” customers with cheap brake specials and then charged hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs.
As part of the settlement, Midas International Corporation is acquiring all of Glad’s shops, which therefore will continue to operate without interruption.
“For years, Glad ran a bait-and-switch scam, in which he deceptively lured customers into his Midas shops with cheap brake specials, then charged them hundreds of dollars more for unnecessary repairs,” Brown said. “Our settlement makes sure that Glad will never own or operate an auto repair shop in California again.”
After a four-year undercover investigation by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair, Brown filed suit against Glad in June 2009. The investigation revealed that Glad regularly advertised $79 to $99 brake specials at his Midas shops to draw in customers and then often charged another $110 to $130 for unnecessary brake-rotor resurfacing. In some cases, customers were charged hundreds of dollars more for repairs that were not needed or never performed.
The settlement requires Glad to pay $1.8 million in damages, investigative costs and attorney fees, plus permanently prevents the franchisee from:
• Applying for or holding any license or registration issued by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair or any successor agency; and
• Engaging in any business that requires any type of license or registration issued by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair or any successor agency.
In addition to acquiring Glad’s 22 shops, Midas International Corporation has agreed to honor any and all guarantees or warranties previously made or given to customers.
In 1989, the state attorney general sued Glad for similar violations, which resulted in an injunction prohibiting his shops from performing unnecessary repairs, charging for services not performed, or using scare tactics to convince customers to purchase unnecessary parts and services. The California Bureau of Automotive Repair initiated its recent investigation into Glad’s Midas shops to monitor compliance with the injunction.
Undercover agents, posing as customers, conducted approximately 30 sting operations at Glad’s shops. In total, there were more than 35 incidents, involving 105 violations, in which shop managers, mechanics and employees made false or misleading statements to pressure customers into purchasing unnecessary parts and services. On average, the shops charged undercover agents almost $300 in unnecessary brake-rotor resurfacings, brake-drum repairs, brake adjustments, brake-cleaning services and other services.
“Overselling of services has become an increasing problem,” said California Bureau of Automotive Repair Chief Sherry Mehl. “It amounts to fraud and seriously harms the consumer. That’s why we aggressively work to find and shut down these shops.”
Brown’s lawsuit was filed jointly with Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff (then) and Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth A. Egan, due to the large number of shops operating in Alameda and Fresno Counties. Glad’s 22 Midas shops are located in Campbell, Clovis, Concord, Dublin, Fremont, Fresno, Hayward, Manteca, Merced, Modesto, San Jose, San Leandro, Turlock and Walnut Creek.
Brown’s lawsuit contended that Glad and his shops:
• Used false and misleading advertising in violation of Business and Professions Code 17500;
• Employed unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices in violation of Business and Professions Code 17200; and
• Disobeyed the 1989 Alameda County Superior Court injunction in violation of Business and Professions Code 17535.5 and 17207.
“The Department of Consumer Affairs has zero tolerance for consumer fraud,” said California Department of Consumer Affairs Director Brian Stiger. “We are very pleased that, in partnership with the Attorney General’s office, we have been able to stop a bad player from further harming both consumers and the hard-working, law-abiding players in the auto repair industry.”
Consumers who believe they have been overcharged by an auto-repair facility can file a complaint with the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Automotive Repair online at: www.autorepair.ca.gov or by calling 1-800-952-5210.
The settlement is attached.