“Shop supplies fee” class action dismissed; no unlawful practice under the MMPA
She needed new tires. So she went to a Bridgestone tire shop.
She was charged a “shop supplies fee” of $1.20, which appeared on the itemized initial estimate, as well as the final invoice.
A sign posted in the store explained the purpose of this “shop supplies fee”:
TO OUR CUSTOMERS: A variety of shop supplies are consumed in servicing our customer’s vehicles. Parts and labor necessary for servicing customer’s vehicles are itemized on estimates and invoices. However, shop supplies (such as protective items for your vehicle, solvents, cleaners, rags, etc.) do not lend themselves to precise itemization. Therefore, on invoices greater than $30, an additional charge of 6% of the total labor amount, not to exceed $25 will be added to your invoice. This charge represents costs and profits. Non-mandated disposal or recycling charges may also represent costs and profits.
A lawsuit ensued. Plaintiff sought certification of a class of individuals charged the “shop supplies fee” at defendant’s stores in Missouri. She sued under the MMPA and for money had and received, alleging that the “shop supplies fee” is deceptive because its name suggests that the entire fee goes towards supplies used in servicing a consumer’s car.
The Court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment in its entirety, concluding as a matter of law that Defendant did not engage in an unlawful practice under the MMPA. The Court found that Defendant’s disclosures regarding the reason for and calculation of the fee were “clear, simple, and straightforward.” – i.e. shop supplies do not lend themselves to precise itemization.
The Court also rejected Plaintiff’s notion that, “to be honest,” the name of the fee must reference “profit.” The Court stated that “[w]hile the MMPA requires honesty and candor, it does not require every item of merchandise, service, or fee that generates profit for a for-profit business to be titled as such.” Toben v. Bridgestone Retail Oper., LLC, 2013 WL 5406463, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 25, 2013).