Lakin's new class action says customer shortchanged 58 cents in tax rate differential

Kelly Holleran Nov. 19, 2009, 9:00am

A man has filed a putative class action lawsuit against an auto store, alleging the store refuses to reimburse customers the full amount of a product if taxes at the purchase store are higher than where the product is returned.

Darin L. Pichee and the putative class will be represented by Bradley M. Lakin, Robert W. Schmieder II and Robert J. Evola of LakinChapman in Wood River.

Pichee claims he purchased an ignition lock cylinder at an O'Reilly Auto Parts in Alton for $62.54 on Sept. 8. The cost of the cylinder consisted of $57.99 for the actual part and $4.55 for 7.85 percent in sales tax.

On Sept. 9, Pichee returned the cylinder with his receipt to the O'Reilly Godfrey store. There, however, Pichee only received $61.96 back, according to the complaint filed Nov. 13 in Madison County Circuit Court.

"Upon information and belief O'Reilly returned the lesser amount because the applicable tax rate at the Godfrey, Illinois store in 6.85%," the suit states.

Pichee claims O'Reilly consistently fails to refund its customers the total cost of their products.

"While O'Reilly promises a refund of all amounts paid by the purchaser if merchandise is returned to it within the prescribed time period, it does not do so if the item is returned to an O'Reilly location where the applicable sales tax rate is lower than the rate applicable at the location where the item originally was purchased," the complaint says. "Rather than return the entire amount paid by the purchaser as promised, O'Reilly returns only what it categorizes as the cost of the item and an amount equal to the sales tax at the store where the item is returned."

However, if the opposite occurs and a customer returns an item at a store with a higher sales tax than where the product was originally purchased, O'Reilly adjusts the amount to ensure it does not return more money to the customer than what was paid for the item, according to the complaint.

Pichee is asking the court to certify the complaint as a class action lawsuit and is seeking actual damages, plus attorneys' fees, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-1224.

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