Sears Roebuck & Co. is paying $450,000 in penalties to settle a case filed by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office for allegedly overselling auto services at its Sears automotive repair stores in the Central Valley and failing to charge the correct amount of sales tax for parts.
The district attorney’s consumer protection unit filed its court case after the state Bureau of Automotive Repair conducted inspections at Sears auto repair dealerships. Those investigations determined that the company was violating the California Automotive Repair Act by overselling engine oil and repairs. The stores also were not charging the correct amount of state sales taxes for taxable parts used in repairs.
In the settlement announced Tuesday, Sears agreed to pay $450,000 in civil penalties and costs, and repay the unpaid sales tax, interest and penalties to the state’s Board of Equalization. While not admitting to any fault, the company also agreed to charge the proper tax on its parts and provide training to its employees.
This is not the first time Sears has been in trouble over its automotive repairs. Sears stores in Fresno, Clovis, Visalia, Merced and Modesto were among seven stores that reached a settlement last year with the state attorney general.
The settlement came after a series of undercover investigations by the Bureau of Automotive Repair for using more oil than needed for engine oil changes with the potential for damaging the vehicles, and misrepresenting repairs or service. In that settlement, revocation of the stores’ repair licenses was stayed while the dealerships were put on probation for a year.