Wal-Mart To Pay $2.1M For Overcharging Calif. Customers

Penalty Stems From Violation Of 2008 Judgment, State Officials Say; 10News I-Team Exposed Violations in February 2011

Wal-Mart Wednesday agreed to pay $2.1 million for overcharging California customers and violating a previous judgment for the same problem.

» Video: Walmart Prices Still Not Being Corrected» Video: Pricing Accuracy Policy Violated At Local Walmart Stores» Sign Up For Breaking News Alerts» SD County District Attorney Press Release» State Attorney General Press Release» Sign Required At All Wal-Mart Check Stands By April 27, 2012» Like Us On Facebook» Follow Us On Twitter

When Walmart stores throughout the state were first caught advertising one price on the shelf and charging a different, higher price at checkout, the retailer was ordered to stop the practice.

A 2008 judgment required Wal-Mart to pay $1.4 million and to adhere to a "Get it Free" program for four years. The program required that if customers are overcharged, they immediately get $3 off the lowest advertised price of the item, or they receive the item for free if it is less than $3.

The 10News I-Team went undercover in 2011 to Walmart stores throughout San Diego County and found numerous instances of overcharging. The "Get It Free" policy was not voluntarily offered and many employees seemed unaware of it.

In one instance of overcharging the I-Team witnessed, the customer did not receive the $3 discount even after a manager was summoned. In another instance, an incorrect price for baby wipes was not corrected two days after it was brought to Walmart's attention.

The I-Team took its findings to local prosecutors.

"Our case was based in part on a Channel 10, I believe it was an I-Team, report, about their having gone to several Walmart stores in San Diego County and shopping to see if Walmart was honoring the 'Get It Free' program," said San Diego Assistant City Attorney Tricia Pummill.

The San Diego City Attorney's Office, San Diego County District Attorney's Office and the state Attorney General teamed up to get Wal-Mart to do right by California consumers.

"So we followed up on your report and found that that was enough of a concern statewide, that we worked with Wal-Mart to reach a stipulation for today's judgment," Pummill told 10News.

Without admitting any guilt, Wal-Mart agreed to pay an additional $2.1 million in new penalties and costs, and extend its "Get It Free" program through November 2013. Wal-Mart must also post new signs in English and Spanish at every check stand in every store in California explaining the policy. The new signs are required to be in place by April 27.

"We would be very interested to hear from anyone who walks into a Walmart store now that this judgment has been finalized, and doesn't get $3 off the lowest price when they've been overcharged," said Pummill. "We need to hear from consumers because otherwise the business may keep doing it and the only way to stop this behavior is for us to know about it so we can take action."

Steve Restivo, senior director of community affairs for Wal-Mart, issued the following statement regarding the settlement:

"Walmart is committed to delivering everyday low prices on products our customers need for their home and family. We always strive for 100% pricing accuracy and will continue to make improvements to ensure we meet this goal. California families can trust Walmart to deliver on our mission to help them save money and live better."

Print this article Back to Top