Richmond tire shop to issue refunds to customers over ‘bait and switch’ advertising

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Monday that he has reached a settlement with Shockoe Bottom Automotive & Tires, Inc., a Richmond-based-seller of tires and alignment services, for alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Commonwealth’s “bait and switch” statute.

In his lawsuit filed in June 2016, Herring alleged that Shockoe Bottom Automotive, also known as “Shockoe Bottom Tires” and “Emerald Tires,” advertised price deals for tires and alignment services on its website and storefront that it refused to honor with its customers. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Shockoe Bottom Tires:

  • Advertised tires for sale on the front of its building for $25, but failed to honor that price with consumers who purchased tires at the shop;
  • Posted coupons, in the store and online, offering tires “buy 3 get 1 free,” then refused to honor those terms; and
  • Advertised a tire alignment service as included with the price of tires, but refused to provide the alignment service to consumers who purchased tires.

The settlement contains the following key terms:

  • Shockoe Bottom Tires agrees to provide refunds to Virginia consumers who file a complaint and who suffered “monetary harm” on or after September 1, 2013, including any amount paid at Shockoe Bottom Tires’ East Main St. location:
  1. in excess of $25 for any tire purchased;
  2. for a fourth tire where three tires were purchased at one time;
  3. for an alignment where the consumer purchased two or more tires and sought but did not receive a free alignment; or
  4. any other charges incurred as a result of Shockoe Bottom Tires’ failure to honor its advertised terms or price(s).
  • In order to qualify for reimbursement, consumers must file a qualifying complaint with the Virginia Attorney General’s Office by August 7, 2017. The Attorney General’s Office will review subsequent complaints filed and determine whether those complaints qualify for restitution.
  • A permanent ban to prevent Shockoe Bottom Tires from engaging in violations of the Consumer Protection Act and the state’s “bait and switch” statute and a requirement that Shockoe Bottom Tires conform all of its written signage, coupons, posting, or other advertisements to the Consumer Protection Act;
  • Shockoe Bottom Tires agrees to pay the Commonwealth a $1,500 civil penalty and $3,000 for reimbursement of the Commonwealth’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

“Honest advertising is one of the most basic requirements of doing business in Virginia. Consumers have a right to rely on the advertisements and representations a company makes. A business can’t just advertise one price then charge customers more when they actually arrive at the door,” Herring said. “In order to be eligible for restitution consumers must file a complaint by August 7, so I’d encourage any consumer who thinks they may be eligible to contact my Consumer Protection Section as quickly as possible.”

8News spoke with a man who said he has known the owner of the store for the past two years and he’s a hard worker who just made a mistake.

“I think they have taken it a little overboard with him, but you know, if he’s one to comply with it, I guess that’s the way the chips fall,” Keith Wilton said.

To be considered for restitution, consumers who believe they have been victimized by these practices are encouraged to file written complaints including documentation of their purchase from Shockoe Bottom Tires with the Virginia Attorney General’s Officeby August 7th.

You can find the Attorney General’s Office contact information below:

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