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PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: SOME 56,000 PENNSYLVANIA CONSUMERS WHO PURCHASED CERTAIN SEARS AUTO SERVICES ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE $50 COUPON

PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: SOME 56,000 PENNSYLVANIA CONSUMERS WHO

PURCHASED CERTAIN SEARS AUTO SERVICES ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE $50 COUPON
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- An estimated 56,000 Pennsylvania consumers who purchased five specific auto services from Sears Roebuck and Company (NYSE: S) will qualify for a $50 coupon good for merchandise or services at any Sears store, Attorney General Ernie Preate Jr. announced today.
 "This represents approximately $2.8 million for Pennsylvania consumers," Preate said.
 Preate said his Bureau of Consumer Protection was part of a nationwide settlement reached with the nation's largest retailer and formally announced today by the governor and attorney general of California.
 The agreement culminates a nearly two-year investigation by California officials which focused on complaints that Sears sold unneeded automotive repairs to its customers.
 Under the settlement, customers who purchased any of the following automotive services from a Sears store during an 18-month period from Aug. 1, 1990, through Jan. 31, 1992, will qualify for a $50 coupon for each service purchased:
 -- Shock absorbers.
 -- Coil springs.
 -- Brake calipers.
 -- Idler arms.
 -- Master cylinders.
 Sears will make the $50 coupons available to consumers by Nov. 1, and they will be good for a one-year period. The coupons are redeemable toward the purchase of any Sears merchandise or service.
 Consumers can qualify for the coupons by presenting a sales receipt showing that the specified work was performed or, if a receipt is not available, they can sign an affidavit stating that they had the work performed at a Sears store, Preate said.
 For any customer who can demonstrate that the $50 coupon does not adequately address their loss, Sears has pledged to honor its policy of "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back," according to California officials.
 In June of this year, in response to an investigation by New Jersey officials that similarly found Sears customers purchased unnecessary auto repairs, Sears announced it would end incentive compensation to its service advisors.
 Sears also agreed to take the lead in formulating industry-wide standards for car repairs and to retain an independent organization to conduct ongoing "shopping audits" of Sears' own repair shops.
 Preate said that in addition to the settlement announced today, his Bureau of Consumer Protection is nearing completion of an unrelated investigation of an alleged misleading advertisement for Sears automotive service.
 "We expect that our separate concerns with Sears automotive advertising will be resolved by agreement very shortly," Preate said.
 "Automobile sales and repairs are the No. 1 consumer complaint received of the nearly 30,000 cases logged annually by my Bureau of Consumer Protection," Preate said. "Complaints about motor vehicle sales and repairs surpassed the 6,500 mark during the fiscal year that ended June 1991."
 Consumer information regarding automobile sales and repairs will be highlighted in Pennsylvania during National Consumer Week Oct. 26-31 in events sponsored statewide by the Bureau of Consumer Protection, he added.
 The Bureau monitors complaints about the automotive repair marketplace and mediates in consumer disputes with repair shops. Last year, the Bureau filed a civil lawsuit against Midas Muffler for unnecessary repairs to consumers' cars in 12 of its Western Pennsylvania outlets. That case is pending.
 "In addition," Preate said, "the Bureau currently is conducting undercover shopping investigations involving a number of other auto repair businesses in several different areas of the state."
 /delval/
 -0- 9/2/92
 /CONTACT: Jack J. Lewis, assistant press secretary of the Office of Attorney General, 717-787-5211, or at home, 717-657-9840/ CO: Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office; Sears, Roebuck & Co. ST: Pennsylvania, California IN: AUT SU:


CC -- PH028 -- 6019 09/02/92 15:15 EDT
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Date:Sep 2, 1992
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