Sears, Kmart reach overcharging settlement

July 20, 2010 8:25:30 PM PDT
The parent company of Sears and Kmart stores reached a $1.1 million settlement Monday with five Bay Area district attorney's offices that alleged the stores charged customers more than the advertised prices on items offered for sale.

Prosecutors from Marin, Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma and Los Angeles counties filed the suit against the Sears Holdings Corp. in Marin County Superior Court. The company owns Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Kmart Corp.

The suit was filed after regular inspections by the California Department of Agriculture's Division of Measurement Standards and the counties' Departments of Weights and Measures disclosed that price scanners at the stores' registers were charging more than the lowest advertised prices.

The complaint also alleged that Kmart stores charged consumers more than the California Redemption Value for beverage containers under the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act.

Sears and Kmart cooperated with the investigation without admitting wrongdoing and have since instituted new policies and procedures to improve pricing accuracy, according to the Marin County District Attorney's Office.

"In these harsh economic times, it becomes imperative that we diligently ensure a fair marketplace in California by enforcing price accuracy laws," Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said.

"Consumers should always watch as items are scanned at the register and check receipts to verify that they are charged the correct price," Sonoma County Assistant District Attorney Diana Gomez said.

The settlement also requires Sears and Kmart stores to implement additional audit and price accuracy procedures in its California stores for three years.


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