Court fines grocer for overcharges

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A San Diego Superior Court judge ordered Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Inc. to pay $833,136 for pricing errors that resulted in shoppers getting overcharged for items including meat and seafood.

Additionally, the court ordered the company to implement a "Get it Free" scheme in which shoppers at Fresh & Easy stores throughout California will get $3 off the lowest advertised price of an item they were overcharged at the register. If the lowest advertised price is $3 or less, the customer will receive that item for free.

“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.”

Prosecutors filed a civil complaint against Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market alleging that the company charged higher prices at the register than the prices posted in stores and in ads. The prosecutors also alleged that meat and seafood packages were marked a higher price per pound than the shelf prices indicated. Weights and measures officials in 12 California counties brought the case to prosecutors. Officials documented scanner and package overcharges during 124 inspections of 82 different Fresh & Easy stores. There are 163 Fresh & Easy stores in California, 17 of those are in San Diego County.

Judge Randa Trapp ordered Fresh & Easy not to commit violations in the future and imposed a penalty of $653,470, costs of $97,163 and restitution of $80,000. Also, the Get it Free program will run for the next three years.

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