Thursday, March 22, 2012
Attorney General Harris Settles With Walmart, Retailer Agrees to Pay $2.1 Million for Overcharging Customers
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said yesterday that Walmart has agreed to pay $2.1 million for overcharging consumers in violation of a 2008 judgment against the retail chain.
The company was required by that judgment to to resolve errors in pricing at checkout stands, the attorney general explained, but did not fully comply, leading to the settlement announced yesterday.
“Consumers should feel confident that the price on the shelf will be the same price they are charged at the cash register,” the attorney general said in a statement. “Californians who shop at Walmart should know that they have the right to ask for the appropriate discount.”
In December 2005, the Attorney General’s office and the San Diego District Attorney’s office investigated allegations that Walmart stores in California were scanning items at a higher price than the prices advertised on store shelves and signs. Through random price-checking, county Departments of Weights and Measures across the state found that 164 Walmart stores in 30 counties had made scanning errors.
According to the terms of the 2008 judgment, consumers who were overcharged at the cash register should have immediately received $3 off the lowest advertised price of the item. If the price was less than $3, the item was to be given to the consumer for free.
Starting in November 2010, departments of Weights and Measures in 11 counties conducted investigations to monitor Walmart’s compliance and found continued errors in pricing at Walmart checkout stands, the attorney general said. Harris joined San Diego District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and San Diego City Attorney Jan I. Goldsmith yesterday in filing a stipulated modified judgment with the San Diego Superior Court resolving Walmart’s failure to comply with the requirements of the 2008 judgment.
The $3 off program was originally scheduled to end in November 2012, but with yesterday’s action has been extended to November 2013. Walmart will also be required to put new, large signs describing the policy, in both English and Spanish, at each of the approximately 3,000 checkout stands at its 180 stores and super centers in California.
Walmart has also agreed to designate a person at every Walmart store in California to ensure pricing accuracy. Any price discrepancy must be reported within three hours to Walmart’s corporate headquarters, which receives and maintains price audit information, consumer complaints and inspection reports for all California Walmart stores.
The $2.1 million in penalties and costs will be divided among the counties that conducted the investigations, the California Department of Measurement Standards, the Attorney General’s office, the San Diego District Attorney’s office and the San Diego City Attorney’s office.
Walmart commented on the settlement in a brief statement:
“Walmart is committed to delivering everyday low prices on products our customers need for their home and family. We always strive for 100% pricing accuracy and will continue to make improvements to ensure we meet this goal. California families can trust Walmart to deliver on our mission to help them save money and live better.”
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company