Safeway to pay fine, repay customers who were overcharged

August 24, 2013 12:13:10 PM PDT
The food store chain Safeway Inc. has agreed to reimburse some "rewards" members and pay a fine after overcharging customers at a gas station in Campbell, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Safeway has repaid customers whose credit cards bills showed higher amounts taken out than on charge slips in more than 700 transactions at a Safeway gas station on Hamilton Avenue in Campbell, Deputy District Attorney Francisca Allen said.

The chain, in addition to reimbursing the rewards customers, also paid a civil penalty of $46,650 while not admitting any liability or wrongdoing and cooperating with prosecutors, Allen said.

The district attorney's office learned about the overcharging in fall 2011 from a customer who noticed a discrepancy between what a gas receipt from the Hamilton gas station showed and what was charged on her credit card bill, Allen said.

The discount price for her gas, when she used her rewards card, showed up on the printed receipt from the gas pump but not on the credit card bill she received later, Allen said.

The investigation revealed that a new but faulty software program would infrequently trigger a disruption and cause the undiscounted price for gas to be charged to credit card companies, Allen said.

Prosecutors found out that the glitch was also at Safeway gas stations in Pleasant Hill and Palm Springs that used the same software, Allen said.

While more than 700 overcharges were evident at the Campbell station, less than 30 erroneous sales took place each of at the Pleasant Hill and Palm Springs stations, Allen said.

Safeway repaid the customers by issuing credit to their rewards cards equal to what they were overcharged, Allen said.

In a statement the company said, "The matter arose from a glitch in our fuel payment system affecting largely one gas station. A small number of customers were overcharged small amounts for their fuel purchases. We fixed the problem as soon as we became aware of it and gave refunds to the affected customers. We cooperated fully with the DA in Santa Clara County, and are pleased the matter has been resolved."


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