Business & Finance

Auto parts retailer reaches settlement over price violation accusations

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NEWARK – Advance Auto Parts, which operates two stores in Newark, charged more than the amount shown on some items’ price tags, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Advance Auto Parts agreed to make changes at all its 69 stores in New Jersey “to ensure the accuracy of its pricing both at point of display and at the register” said the Attorney General’s Office.

The company agreed to pay more than $69,000 in fines after the pricing discrepancies were discovered at seven of its New Jersey stores, authorities said.

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“Prices would be displayed for … items on the store shelves, but different prices would be charged with items were scanned at the register,” according to the Attorney General’s Office.

The pricing problem was found at the chain’s stores in East Orange, Newark, Linden, East Brunswick, Bloomfield, Avenel and Fanwood. The company was cited in a civil complaint filed in December 2015.

“Investigators visited the Advance Stores between Jan. 21 and Feb. 23, 2015, and found that certain merchandise items were priced at as much as $4.84 over what was indicated on the item or at the point of display,” said the state.

In a judgement signed earlier this month, Advance Stores “agreed to ensure the accuracy of its pricing both at point of display and at the register,” said the Attorney General’s Office. “In addition, Advance Stores will implement in its 69 Advance Auto Parts stores throughout New Jersey a monitoring program, in which the company will conduct regular audits of its pricing and keep a log of those audits. The company will also provide its general managers and other employees with training to ensure compliance with its pricing policies. Advance Stores will designate a corporate compliance coordinator to oversee the compliance program.”

The state noted similar pricing practices were discovered at AutoZone and a settlement was reached, in March 2016, that led AutoZone to “revise its business practices.”

The state has a similar action against Pep Boys that is still pending, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

“Consumers should not have to worry whether the price advertised for merchandise is actually the price they pay,” said Attorney General Christopher Porrino. “Settlements such as this make it more likely that when consumers visit an auto parts store they will get what they pay for at the correct price.”

Steve Lee, director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs, agreed. “It’s vital that we hold merchants accountable for the accuracy of the pricing in their stores,” Lee said. “The Division is committed to taking action whenever necessary and sending a message that deceptive conduct will not be tolerated.

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