Calif. AG reaches agreement with Wal-Mart

Bryan Cohen Mar. 22, 2012, 12:19pm


SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a $2.1 million agreement on Wednesday with Wal-Mart to resolve alleged violations of a 2008 judgment against the company.

The modified judgment results from Wal-Mart's alleged failure to comply with a 2008 judgment requiring the retail chain to fix 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," Harris said. "Californians who shop at Wal-Mart should know that they have the right to ask for the appropriate discount."

Harris's office and the San Diego District Attorney's office looked into allegations in December 2005 that Wal-Mart's California stores were scanning items at a higher price than the prices advertised on signs and store shelves. County departments of weights and measures used random price-checking and allegedly found that 164 Wal-Mart stores in 30 counties made errors in scanning.

Under the terms of a 2008 judgment, consumers who were overcharged at the cash register were to immediately receive $3 off the lowest advertised price of the item. If it was less than $3, the items were to be given freely to the consumer.

Beginning in November 2010, 11 county weight and measures departments alleged that Wal-Mart continued to have errors in pricing at checkout stands.

On Wednesday, Harris, along with San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, filed a stipulated modified judgment to resolve Wal-Mart's alleged failure to comply with the requirements of the 2008 judgment in San Diego Superior Court.

While the $3 off program was originally scheduled to end in November, the action has extended the program through November 2013. Wal-Mart must also put large, new signs that describe the policy, in both Spanish and English, at each of the approximately 3,000 checkout stands at its 180 super centers and stores in the state.

In addition, Wal-Mart has agreed to designate a person at every California Wal-Mart store to ensure accurate pricing. Price discrepancies must be reported within three hours to the corporate headquarters of Wal-Mart, which receives and maintains inspection reports, consumer complaints and price audit information for all Wal-Mart stores in California.

Wal-Mart will pay new costs and penalties totaling $2.1 million. The funds will be divided between county weights and measures officials, the California Department of Measurement standards, the San Diego District Attorney's office, the San Diego City Attorney's office and Harris's office.

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