HOUSTON (CN) - Dollar General sells its house brand of motor oil though it's "not safe for cars manufactured within the past 27 years," and conceals it in small print on the label, a federal class action claims.
Lead plaintiff Michael Deck sued Dollar General Corp. dba Dolgencorp of Texas on Monday.
Deck says Dollar General puts its DG-brand oil on shelves next to Pennzoil and Castrol, which gives it an air of legitimacy. But any customer who reads the label will realize the oil's not recommended for their cars, Deck claims in the lawsuit.
Dollar General's DG SAE 10W-30 and DG SAE 10W-40 blends are "not suitable for use in most gasoline powered automotive engines built after 1988," the label states. The lawsuit shows photos of the labels with the print enlarged.
The company's DG SAE 30 would be more at home in the Model-T's heyday. It's "not suitable for use in most gasoline powered automotive engines built after 1930," according to the label.
Deck has some words of advice for the Tennessee-based discount chain that operates 12,198 stores in 43 states: "Dollar General's entire line of low-cost motor oil is unsuitable for the modern-day vehicles driven by its customers and has no business being sold."
Founded as J.L. Turner & Son by a Kentucky family in 1939, the company changed its name to Dollar General Corp. in 1968, according to publicly available data.
The stock traded publicly from 1968 to 2007, when a group of investors, including a Goldman Sachs affiliate, bought it for $7.3 billion, at $22 per share, and took it private.
The company went public again in 2009. It's commitment to rural, working class and poor customers serves it well. The share price has climbed steadily from $21 in the initial public offering to close at $71.56 on Monday.
Deck's lawsuit does not say how the oil he bought from a Dollar General in Houston in November damaged his car, or if he's basing his claims solely on the alleged deceptive marketing.
He seeks class certification and punitive damages for deceptive trade, unjust enrichment and breach of warranty.
He also wants restitution, disgorgement and a declaration ordering Dollar General to accurately convey the quality of its oil.
He is represented by David Pace in Houston.
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