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CARQUEST Auto Parts to pay $242,715 judgment after accused of overcharging customers

SAN DIEGO -- Golden State Supply, doing business as CARQUEST Auto Parts stores in the San Diego area, has agreed to pay a $242,715 judgment after being accused of charging customers more than the advertised or posted price on items when they were scanned at check-out counters.

After customers complained to authorities, an investigation was jointly launched by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. The case was filed in San Diego Superior Court.

The case alleged CARQUEST stores in California charged customers more than the advertised or posted price on items in violation of unfair competition and false advertising laws.

In addition, inspectors observed in eight stores that the cash registers failed to display the price of items where the consumer could see the display, which is a violation of state law. There was no admission of wrongdoing or liability by CARQUEST, which cooperated with prosecutors to reach a stipulated judgment.

The case against CARQUEST was based on inspection reports from 10 California counties as well as consumer complaints about overcharging. In San Diego, the County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures inspected local CARQUEST stores.

The judgment requires CARQUEST to pay $165,975 in penalties, $46,740 in costs to weights and measures agencies and to prosecutors’ offices and $30,000 to organizations as restitution. CARQUEST is also prohibited from charging an amount greater than the currently-advertised price for items in the future.

“This judgment reflects the significance of the County’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures in protecting consumers,” District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis said. “It’s important that businesses compete fairly in the marketplace and charge the prices they advertise.”

Weights and measures take complaints from members of the public who believe they have been overcharged by businesses, at (858) 694-2778. The District Attorney’s Office also maintains a Consumer Hotline at (619) 531-3507.

“Our citizens need to have confidence when they shop that the price advertised is the one that is charged,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. “Actions like this are a reminder for businesses that they will be regulated to protect consumers.”

The City Attorney’s Consumer Hotline phone number is (619) 533-5600. The office has a Consumer & Environmental Protection Unit, which prosecutes violations of law that arise from consumer transactions or actions that damage the environment. CEPU also investigates complaints of false or misleading advertising.