SAN DIEGO (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay a $2.1 million penalty for charging California costumers at prices higher than those posted, in violation of a 2008 judgment ordering the retail chain to stop, state Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced Wednesday.
The agreement came after an investigation that began in November 2010 found that Walmart stores in 11 counties made checkout scanning errors that left customers paying more than listed prices.
The investigation was a follow-up to the 2008 judgment, where 164 stores in 30 counties were found to have overcharged customers.
Wal-Mart agreed at the time to knock $3 off the lowest listed price of an item for any customer who was overcharged. If the item cost less than $3, the item would be free. That program, set to expire in November of this year, will now be extended to November 2013.
Wal-Mart will be required to post signs describing the policy in English and Spanish at every checkout counter in all 180 of its California outlets, and the company has agreed to designate a person at every store to ensure pricing accuracy.
"Consumers should feel confident that the price on the shelf will be the same price they are charged at the cash register," Harris said in a written statement. "Californians who shop at Walmart should know that they have the right to ask for the appropriate discount."
Harris, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and San Diego City Attorney Jan I. Goldsmith filed the newly modified judgment Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court, where the original lawsuit was filed.
A Wal-Mart representative said the Bentonville, Ark.-based company is committed to accurate prices at the checkout counter.
"We always strive for 100 percent pricing accuracy and will continue to make improvements to ensure we meet this goal," Senior Director of Community Affairs Steve Restivo said in a statement. "California families can trust Wal-Mart to deliver on our mission to help them save money and live better."
Funds from the penalty will be divided between the county and state offices that monitored the pricing discrepancies, and the three prosecuting offices that filed the judgment.