A tire shop has lost another round with the state of Utah and still faces $25,000 in fines for selling motorists tires and parts that regulators say were unneeded or were deceptively expensive.
Freeway Tire, along interstate 15 at the exit to New Harmony, has twice been cited by the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. The first time it was ordered to pay $15,000 in fines.
An order issued Oct. 15 by the executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, which oversees the consumer protection division, upheld a $10,000 fine in the second case. Freeway Tire and its owner, Michael Heath, are now challenging both fines in state court.
An attorney representing Heath and Freeway Tire did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday. That attorney, Jim Jensen, previously told The Salt Lake Tribune that consumer complaints "come with the territory,” and Heath tries to satisfy every customer.
Freeway Tire once operated beside a Texaco station that Heath also owned. Last year, the gas station began operating under the Shell banner.
The Division of Consumer Protection has alleged motorists would pull into the gas or service station and be sold tires or parts like shocks or struts that were unnecessary or without fully disclosing the prices in advance.
In one example found by regulators, Freeway Tire replaced the two front tires and the left front axle on a New Jersey driver’s Honda Civic. The driver was told it would cost $1,800; then he received invoices for almost $2,400.
Heath once owned a Shell station and repair shop near Wells, Nev., and also faces a lawsuit over the sale of that business. The plaintiff who bought the business, Harry S. Johnson, alleges Heath made a number of misrepresentations during the sale and that his pattern of bad business practices amounts to racketeering. The lawsuit is in federal court in Salt Lake City.
Heath filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit earlier this month. The motion denies any fraud, says it was the buyer’s job to perform due diligence before purchasing the business, and that the sales contract bars Johnson from filing the lawsuit now being weighed by a judge.