State looking into customers' tires trapped at Johnson's Tire Service
State officials are investigating reports of customers’ tires being left locked inside an Anchorage tire company’s building when it abruptly closed this week, asking others facing the same problem to come forward.
The issues stem from the Tire Hotel, a storage program for customers’ unused tires after seasonal changeovers offered at Johnson’s Tire Service. The business, which had been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings since 2015, suddenly closed its final Denali Street location Tuesday, surprising even employees told to retrieve personal items that morning.
A page regarding the Tire Hotel program from Johnson’s now-defunct website, cached by Google, says the Anchorage-based service lets drivers enjoy “no more hauling tires back and forth,” along with safe and insured space to store tires.
Attempts by KTVA to contact company president Kelly Gaede were unsuccessful Tuesday and Saturday.
On Saturday, a message taped to the front doors at Johnson’s called for the company to return a set of snow tires for an Audi A3 sedan left in the Tire Hotel. Ads from a car dealership offered tire changeovers for the company's former customers and job opportunities for its technicians; a shutoff warning from natural gas provider Enstar advised that its supply to the property would be stopped on Monday.
Cynthia Franklin, the assistant attorney general in charge of the state’s Consumer Protection Unit, said prosecutors hadn’t received any complaints regarding the Tire Hotel by close of business Thursday, but “several” emerged on Friday. Although the state can act on its own to investigate business fraud, complaints by consumers are typically where the rubber meets the road.
“That’s really our mechanism to begin our investigation,” Franklin said. “It’s much more normal, and everyone in the process is going to feel more content if (for) one person, I have at least their name on the record.”
Ken Kulovany contributed information to this story.