Retail beverage giant BevMo! will pay $359,000 to resolve a consumer protection lawsuit brought by a group of district attorney's offices contending that the Concord-based company sometimes charged customers more than the lowest posted or advertised price for items.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office joined with prosecutors in San Diego, Riverside and Santa Barbara counties to bring the lawsuit. A San Diego County Superior Court judge approved the judgment on Dec. 4.
"Companies have a responsibility to ensure they are honoring the prices they are advertising," said Tiyen Lin, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney who worked on the case. "Consumers can help hold companies accountable by checking their receipts."
The law prohibits California businesses from charging an amount greater than an item's lowest advertised price.
BevMo!, with its headquarters on Willow Pass Road in Concord, operates more than 100 stores in California and Arizona.
The case stemmed from regularly scheduled state Weights and Measures Office inspections over the past four years that uncovered scanner overcharges in Santa Clara County and elsewhere, including the other three counties involved in the suit, Lin said.
The inspections are routinely performed on "instruments of commerce" like price scanners and gas pumps to make sure they are measuring accurately.
The final judgment requires BevMo! to perform monthly audits to confirm that items are being priced as advertised, and to enact a "scan-right guarantee program" in its California stores. The company will provide refunds through its customer loyalty program, which Lin said can track program-member customers who were overcharged.
The $359,000 settlement amount will pay for the costs of investigation, plus refunds to specific customers, contributions to a consumer protection trust fund and penalties, Lin said.