Bryan Cohen Jun. 5, 2014, 8:45pm

ST. LOUIS (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced an agreement on Wednesday with Walgreens to resolve allegations of misleading advertisements and overcharging consumers in its Missouri stores.

Koster filed a lawsuit in August, alleging Walgreens stores had pricing discrepancies in which the price of merchandise at checkout was greater than the displayed price for the product.

"Last August, I announced a civil lawsuit against Walgreens for false, misleading, and deceptive retail pricing at their Missouri stores that led to the frequent overcharging of consumers," Koster said. "I pledged I would crack down on overcharging at Walgreens stores in Missouri until the day I leave office. Today, I am announcing a settlement with Walgreens that includes an independent auditor to monitor their stores for three years, until June 2017."

Under the terms of the agreement, Walgreens must pay for an independent auditor to audit at least 25 percent of its Missouri stores every quarter for the next three years. Each audited store must demonstrate at least a 98 percent pricing accuracy rate to pass the audit. Stores that do not pass an audit will be audited the following month. Stores that fail to pass the second audit will be audited monthly until they attain 98 percent pricing accuracy for three consecutive months.

Walgreens must pay a $1,500 penalty for each store that fails its first inspection, $3,000 for each store that fails a second inspection and $5,000 for each store that fails a third or subsequent inspection.

Consumers will also be able to receive free items or a Walgreens gift card if they are overcharged as part of the Consumer Vigilance Award program, which will be established as part of the settlement.

"My attorney general's office intends to loudly, clearly, and publicly let Missourians know each time a Walgreens store fails to meet the expectations of this agreement." Koster said. "My hope is that the combination of audits, financial penalties, and public shaming will give Walgreens executives a strong incentive to clean up their act."

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