On appeal from final order of the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs.
This is an appeal from a final order issued by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs (Director) declaring certain conduct of appellant in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq. , and of the Auto Repairs Regulations promulgated thereunder, N.J.A.C. 13:45A-7.1 and 7.2.
The amended complaint charged the appellant with the following: commencement of work without a written estimate or waiver, in violation of N.J.A.C. 13:45A-7.2(a)-7.2(a)(2)-7.2(a)(3) and N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq.; false promises likely to induce a customer to authorize repairs, in violation of N.J.A.C. 13:45A-7.2(a)(5); charging for work in excess of the oral estimate, in violation of N.J.A.C. 13:45A-7.2(a)(6), and failure to perform work despite payment of the agreed price, in violation of N.J.S.A. 56:8-2. After a plenary hearing the administrative law judge made the following findings:
Earl Lewis, t/a The Restoration Shop , a single proprietor, at all relevant times herein was an automotive repair dealer within the meaning of N.J.A.C. 13:45A-7.1.
In the Spring of 1978, Francois Desert brought his 1962 Thunderbird, New York registration, to Respondent's Shop.
Respondent falsely agreed at that time to perform repairs to the car's engine transmission, front and rear ends for $1,500 and to repaint it for $2,000. No written estimate was prepared by Respondent, no waiver of estimate was signed by Desert and no written authorization to perform work was signed by Desert.
In November, 1978, Desert left the car at Respondent's shop during normal working hours for repairs.
The agreed estimate was falsely confirmed at that time by Respondent's employee. No written estimate was prepared by Respondent, no waiver of
estimate or written authorization to perform work was signed by Desert. The false agreement induced Desert to leave the car for repairs in reliance thereon.
Desert paid Respondent $3,363.78 in reliance thereon and on account of repairs on October 27, 1978, and $600 more in response to Respondent's demand and in further reliance thereon on April 11, 1979.
Despite the agreed estimate, Respondent deceptively continued to perform services on the car and to charge therefor in excess of estimate without the oral or written consent of Desert. Final charges, though the work is unfinished, were more than double the estimate.
Contrary to his testimony, Respondent did not tell Desert before agreement was struck that the work might exceed the estimate or that Respondent worked only on a time/materials basis.
In the Fall of 1978, Thomas J. Farrell brought his 1925 Chevrolet truck engine, disassembled as he was instructed, to Respondent's shop.
Respondent, through his employee, falsely agreed at that time to overhaul, paint and reassemble the engine for $1,000. Respondent ratified the acts of his employee.
No written estimate was prepared by Respondent; no waiver of estimate or no authorization to perform work was signed by Farrell. The false agreement induced Farrell to ...