ATTORNEY GENERAL TOM HORNE: STING OPERATION SHUTS DOWN AUTO REPAIR SHOP PERMANENTLY
PHOENIX, AZ - Attorney General Tom Horne announced the resolution of a case in his ongoing auto repair “sting” operations, a program he instituted to deter auto repair shops from defrauding consumers.
In the sting operation, an automotive repair expert shut off an undercover vehicle’s fuel cutoff switch before the State’s undercover operator called Sun Valley Towing for service. Sun Valley Towing towed the vehicle to its repair shop where a mechanic simply reset the switch, correcting the problem. The owner then charged the State’s undercover operator $340.00 for replacing the fuel pump, an unnecessary repair that was never performed.
In a Consent Judgment totaling $686,582.09 the Court approved an award of $610,000 in civil penalties and $67,580.59 in restitution to consumers. The Judgment against Tim Kunselman, owner of Sun Valley Towing LLC, located at 1354 S. 39th Avenue in Phoenix, was based upon both customer complaints of deceptive business practices, and the State’s undercover auto sting operations. In 2009, Kunselman owned Quartzsite Tire, which was located at 1077 W. Main St. Quartzsite.
“This judgment results from our ongoing undercover auto sting operations and holds Sun Valley Towing’s owner personally liable.” Horne said. “The many serious complaints we received from Sun Valley customers were validated when Kunselman and his company, Sun Valley Towing, were caught red-handed in one of our undercover auto stings charging for repairs they never performed – a very serious and expensive deception for consumers.”
The State’s suit also contained allegations regarding 59 complaints made by customers against Sun Valley Towing and Kunselman, alleging they failed to make promised repairs, kept their vehicles for months or years, returned them stripped of parts in the same or worse mechanical condition, and repeatedly lied to customers about their vehicle’s status and supposed refunds.
In a similar judgment obtained last October against the business, the Court found, after reviewing the consumer complaints, “that Defendants engaged in a highly culpable, persistent course of callous, willful and deceptive misconduct that caused severe damage to an extraordinary number of consumers over an extended period of time.”
The Consent Judgment also includes a permanent injunction prohibiting Kunselman from engaging in auto repair, tow operations, vehicle repair, vehicle sales and vehicle service.