The Arizona attorney general has permanently shut down a Phoenix-based towing company in the wake of a series of auto repair "sting" operations.
A consent judgment totaling $686,582.09 against Tim Kunselman, owner of Sun Valley Towing LLC, at 1354 S. 39th Ave., was based on customer complaints of deceptive business practices and the state's undercover auto sting operations.
Of that amount, the court approved an award of $610,000 in civil penalties and $67,580.59 in restitution to consumers.
In the sting operation, an automotive repair expert shut off an undercover vehicle's fuel cutoff switch. The state's undercover operator then called Sun Valley Towing for service.
The company towed the vehicle to its repair shop where a mechanic reset the switch, correcting the problem. The owner then charged the state's undercover operator $340 for replacing the fuel pump, an unnecessary repair that was never performed, Attorney General Tom 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," Horne said in a statement.
Fifty-nine complaints from customers were cited in the suit, alleging the company 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.
The judgment prohibits Kunselman from ever again engaging in auto repair, tow operations, vehicle repair, vehicle sales and vehicle service.
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