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April 3, 2012 > Wal-Mart to pay $2.1M for failing to stop over-charging customers

Wal-Mart to pay $2.1M for failing to stop over-charging customers

Submitted By Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced on March 21, 2012 that Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $2.1M for overcharging consumers in violation of a 2008 judgment against the retail chain. The modified judgment is the result of the company's failure to comply with the 2008 judgment that required the retail chain to resolve errors in pricing at checkout stands.

"Consumers should feel confident that the price on the shelf will be the same price they are charged at the cash register," said Harris. "Californians who shop at Wal-Mart should know 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 Wal-Mart 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 Wal-Mart 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 Wal-Mart's compliance and found continued errors in pricing at Wal-Mart checkout stands.

On March 21, Harris, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and San Diego City Attorney Jan I. Goldsmith filed a Stipulated Modified Judgment with the San Diego Superior Court resolving Wal-Mart'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 the modified judgment, has been extended to November 2013. Wal-Mart 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.

Wal-Mart has also agreed to designate a person at every Wal-Mart store in California to ensure pricing accuracy. Any price discrepancy must be reported within three hours to Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters which receives and maintains price audit information, consumer complaints and inspection reports for all California Wal-Mart stores.

Wal-Mart has agreed to pay new penalties and costs totaling $2.1M. These funds will be divided between County Weights and Measures officials, 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.

For more information, visit www.oag.ca.gov

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