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The Nevada attorney general's office is going after a car repair franchise accused of ripping off its customers. Representatives for the company were notified Monday that the A.G.'s office has filed a motion to suspend their business licenses.
If you've ever felt ripped off by a car repair shop, you can take heart because they don't always get away with it. The I-Team's hidden camera investigations have shown mechanics at four Purrfect Auto locations charge for services they didn't perform.
The Channel 8 I-Team teamed up with the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection to expose the truth and enforce the law.
Envelopes heavy with the weight of the law, a staffer with the attorney general's office serves legal papers on a representative of four Purrfect Auto franchises: Rancho and Cheyenne, Eastern and St. Rose Parkway, Sunset and Eastern and Decatur and Tropicana.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Kathleen Delaney said, "Our expectation was that we would find out soon enough whether these companies were complying with the law and much to our surprise, I would say that all of them in one way or another were not in compliance with the law."
Using a car outfitted with hidden cameras and marked parts, a staffer with the attorney general's office requests the 60,000-mile service from each location.
Though the decoy had a coupon pricing the work at $149.95, the actual costs vary dramatically from a low of just under $200 at the Eastern store to a high of more than $400 at the Rancho service center.
After each service the tape and the parts were reviewed. By the fourth hidden investigation, legal action is assured.
Deputy Attorney General Ernest Figueroa said, "I find it very disappointing that we went to four places and we have four places allegedly not perform the work that we engaged them to do."
The I-Team's Colleen McCarty: "Hi, I'm Colleen McCarty. We brought a car in last week and I've got a bill for services we paid for but did not receive."
Each manager was offered a chance to explain.
Purrfect Auto Store manager: "I cannot babysit what they did or didn't do. But they should've done everything. I'll be glad to go over it and see if they did it or not."
The attorney general's office has heard the excuses before. In a motion filed Friday in district court, the state references a prior investigation of Purrfect Auto.
In 2004, the owner of the Eastern, Sunset and Decatur locations agreed to discontinue his deceptive trade practices. Two years later, it seems that settlement fell short.
Senior Deputy A.G. Delaney said, "We hope this sends the message that we're watching and we're going to be following up, and we're going to take these complaints seriously, and we're going to take very drastic action if we believe a company is violating the law, especially if they're doing something intentionally. And that's yet to be proven in this case, but we've got a lot of evidence that indicates there's a problem."
The man who entered into the 2004 agreement with the attorney general's office, and who now owns the Eastern and the Rancho franchises profiled in the hidden camera investigation sent the following statement Monday:
"Thank you for bringing these issues to our attention. Our policies are to make sure that all the customers are taken care of and we have made some procedural changes in our shops to make sure that we do not make any of these mistakes.
"If there are customers that feel we made a mistake, they are welcome to return to the shop for a follow up inspection."