HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) --It was not business as usual Thursday at a Bay Area Firestone store and dozens of Jiffy Lubes. The auto shops are not allowed to do car repairs for the next five days. As ABC7 News first reported, the state accused the stores of repeated fraud and suspended their licenses. The penalty takes effect Thursday.
State agents went to all the stores involved when they opened Thursday morning, bringing signs that must be posted in the windows to notify customers of the violations.
The Firestone store at the Southland Mall in Hayward is closed for the next five days. After that it will be on probation. Fidel Reyes with the California Bureau of Automotive Repair said the agency will be monitoring the location for the next three years.
The discipline comes after multiple state undercover sting operations at the store. Agents posed as customers and say Firestone employees tried to sell a long list of unnecessary services with costs ranging from $70 to $ 2,600.
Reyes says the bureau is always monitoring repair shops "and making sure they are doing right by their customers."
Twenty-one other Firestones will be on probation for two years. They were accused of failing to install critical safety features when they installed new tires
Thirty-one Jiffy Lubes owned by the Fanticola family also start a five day suspension today. Most of the stores are in the Bay Area and were the focus of a separate state undercover investigation.
The Fanticola stores are also accused of fraud and selling a range of services customers did not need. They plan to stay open during the suspension but can only do oil changes and other minor services, not the full range of services they usually offer.
Reyes says the stores cannot do any repairs that require mechanical expertise. The Jiffy Lubes will also be on probation for three years.
Jiffy Lube customer Anthony Jackson thinks this kind of action will help keep auto shops honest.
"They'll never know whether someone is coming in as an undercover or just a regular customer. They'll say, 'Oh, we better stop doing that because we can get wrote up and fined or maybe even shut down,'" Jackson said.
Jiffy Lube sent the following statement on behalf of the Fanticola Family:
"As always, we are committed to providing Bay Area drivers quality automotive maintenance services. Our Jiffy Lube service centers operating in the State of California are registered with the California Bureau of Automotive Repair and comply with the organization's guidelines as well as all other laws, regulations, ordinances and industry standards." -- M.C., LLC, Jiffy Lube Franchisee
Bridgestone, owner of Firestone sent this statement:
In cooperation with the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), the Firestone Complete Auto Care (FCAC) store located at 715 La Playa Drive in Hayward, California will be closed for five days beginning July 14th, resuming normal operations on July 19th.
We in no way condone the behaviors or actions that led to this store suspension. They are counter to our values as a company and as members of the community.
We appreciate the guidance provided by BAR and the opportunity to take corrective action on the matters the agency brought to our attention regarding operations at the Hayward location. We look forward to once again providing service to our customers in Hayward and the surrounding vicinity when the store reopens on July 19th.
Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.