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Fresh & Easy Fined $833,136 for Overcharging

The civil complaint alleged that stores across California posted prices for items in the store and then charged more for them at checkout.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Inc., must pay $833,136 to settle a consumer protection case.

The San Diego District Attorney's, the San Diego City Attorney's, and the Riverside District Attorney's consumer and environmental protection units teamed up to file the case against the grocery store chain. Stores across California are subject to the settlement.

Prosecutors filed the civil complaint against company's owners, alleging that they posted prices for items in stores and then charged more for the purchases at checkout, according to a news release.

Also alleged was that the meat and seafood packages were tagged a higher price per pound than what was listed in the shelf prices.  The prosecutors contend that these actions violated false advertising and unfair competition laws. The chain has 163 Fresh & Easy stores in California.

“Our Consumer Protection Unit works to make sure San Diegans get what they pay for,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.  "In this latest case, our prosecutors did an outstanding job collaborating with the City Attorney and Riverside DA’s Office to arrive at today’s significant judgment.”

In Los Angeles County, the chain has locations in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Long BeachPico-Robertson, Encino, Hollywood, Northridge, Eagle RockOak ParkNorth HollywoodVan Nuys, and many more

The court ordered Fresh & Easy not to commit future violations and imposed a penalty of $653,470, costs of $97,163, and restitution totaling $80,000. 

The money will be used to establish a "Get it Free" program. Statewide, shoppers at the stores will be able to get $3 off the lowest advertised price of an item if overcharged at the register.  If the lowest advertised price for the item is $3 or less, the customer will get it for free.

Weights and measures officials brought the case to prosecutors in 12 counties in California when they documented scanner and package overcharges during 124 inspections of 82 different Fresh & Easy stores, officials said.

“Our citizens need to have confidence when they shop that the price advertised is the one that is charged," San Diego City Attorney Jan I. Goldsmith said.  "Actions like this are important to ensure that businesses deal fairly with their customers and compete fairly in the marketplace.

Alex White January 23, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Good. When I had a concern about pricing and product availability, they never returned my call as promised by their “on hold 18 minutes we listen to you customer representative." I'm still waiting for that return call from November 26th, 2012. As you can guess, I'm not holding my breath. Additionally, the clerks at the Sherman Way store were/are, if not insolent and arrogant, indifferent, inattentive, and inept. Although I enjoy some of their selection, as a result of this corporation’s attitude and policy, I voiced my disapproval with my pocketbook. I now limit my purchase history to 1/10th of what it previously had been. Admittedly, I will miss the convenience. However, I will not miss the "Help." It's not the check-out method that put these Royal Wankers out of business; it's their "corrupt" and inefficient business practices. I warned them that the State would make them follow the Ralph's and Rite-Aide-- " We screwed you out of money"-- model, and By George they have! It’s a glorious day in the Republic.
Rhonda G. January 23, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Serves them well! I bought frozen fruits & veggies at the Burbank/North Hollywood location before. The sign read "2 for $4," but at the register, some of them rang up for $3.50 each or more. When I asked for the manager, he assured me the sign was in the wrong place and the sale only applied to VEGGIES, not fruits. Then he just apologized for my inconvenience. I'm glad I'm not the only person who's been screwed out of a couple bucks!
irma glutz January 23, 2013 at 06:25 PM
i love fresh and ez.. and the marked down deal after 3pm.. the burbank store on victory and buena vista has nice workers, although it is sparcely staffed. I hate the auto self checkout stuff.. It might work well in UK, but I am on a walker recently, and have enough troubles just getting in and out of a store.. much less bagging and carrying my groceries, so i haven't been back since I had surgery.

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