Wal-Mart Settles Overcharging Allegations

Retailer to pay customers $3 for price problems

Monday, Nov 24, 2008  |  Updated 3:19 PM PDT
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Wal-Mart Settles Overcharging Allegations

AP

A Wal-Mart employee pushes a line of shopping carts toward the entrance of a Wal-Mart store.

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Their slogan may be "Always Low Prices," but a four-year investigation of Wal-Mart found they overcharged Californians more than the advertised prices -- and now they've agreed to a settlement.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced the judgment on Monday.  The retail giant was accused of scanner violations, charging customers more than the advertised or posted price on items when they were scanned at check-out counters.   Authorities say customers were overcharged $1 for sports bras and Kellogg's Special K cereal, $2 for woven shirts and $5.16 for a Journey compact disc.

"The consumer is the winner today, after one of the nation's largest retail stores was held accountable in a court of law for unfair business practices," said Dumanis. "This judgment demonstrates how diligent state regulators and prosecutors are being about protecting consumers."

The case was filed jointly by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office and the California Attorney General's Office in San Diego Superior Court

The judgment requires Wal-Mart to pay $1.2 million in penalties, $190,621 in costs to 30 weights and measures agencies and prosecutors' offices, and $50,000 to a Consumer Protection Prosecution Trust Fund, the DA's office said.

In addition, every Wal-Mart store in California is required to maintain a "Get It Free" program for four years. If an employee learns that a customer is being overcharged, that worker must give the customer that item for free, or deduct $3 from the price if the item costs more than $3.

Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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