Brown rings up Wal-Mart register errors to the tune of $1.4 million

Legal News Line Nov. 25, 2008, 8:50am

Jerry Brown (D)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-A settlement between retail giant Wal-Mart and the state of California will give shoppers a few extra bucks this holiday season, Attorney General Jerry Brown said Monday.

Brown said an investigation between the state attorney general's office and San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis that began in 2005 discovered errors at cash registers in Wal-Mart stores throughout the state.

"We found price-scanning errors in Wal-Mart stores across California," Brown said. "Consumers saw one price in the aisles, but were charged a higher price at the cash register. With this agreement, Wal-Mart will give customers $3 back when pricing mistakes are found at the cash register. In these tough times, this will help consumers as the holiday season approaches."

The investigation, though random price-checking, found 164 Wal-Mart stores made scanning errors, overcharging customers an average of $8.64 at the checkout.

Wal-mart agreed to give any customer who is overcharged in the future a refund of $3. The program, called the automatic refund program, according to the press release, will give the customer the item for free if it is less than $3.

Additionally, the company agreed to designate an employee who will be responsible for customer complains at each store, and designate an employee in each story to scan items on weekly basis and confirm price accuracy.

Wal-Mart also agreed to pay $1.4 million in restitution, civil penalties and reimbursement for investigative costs, according to the attorney general's office.

Brown's office said examples of price-scanning errors include:

- From late August to November 2006, customers were overcharged $1 on sports bras in Ventura, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Stanislaus, Siskiyou and Tuolumne counties.
- In January and February 2007, customers were overcharged $2 for woven shirts in San Diego, Sacramento, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
- In December 2007, customers were overcharged $2 on S/S Polo in San Diego County.
- In November 2003, customers were overcharged $5.16 on a Journey CD in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
- From December 2004 to February 2005, customers were overcharged $5.02 on Hanes underwear in Los Angeles County.
- In October and November 2006, customers were overcharged $2 on a pair of men's pants in San Diego and Tuolumne counties.
- In March and April 2006, customers were overcharged $1 on Kellogg's Special K cereal in Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties.
- Also in March and April 2006, customers were overcharged forty-six cents on Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal in Madera, King and Ventura counties.

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