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Walmart owes $2.1 million for overcharging San Diego customers, violating previous judgment

SAN DIEGO -- Retail giant Walmart today was ordered to pay $2.1 million for overcharging customers and for violating a previous 2008 judgment in San Diego.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey B. Barton signed the modified judgment today, which increased the judgment of $1.4 million in 2008 to an additional $2.1 million.

“Our Consumer & Environmental Protection Unit monitors compliance and is the watchdog for the benefit of the citizens of San Diego,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. “Businesses are advised not to overcharge the consumer and to comply with all court orders.”

In 2008, Walmart was ordered to implement measures to ensure that consumers would be charged the currently-advertised price at the time of checkout.

They also were ordered to implement and maintain a “Get it Free” program in their California stores for four years whereby a consumer who was overcharged at checkout would receive the item for free. Or, if the lowest advertised price was more than $3, the consumer would receive the lowest advertised price less $3.

In addition, Walmart was required to post a sign at every check-out stand informing consumers of this program.

“Our Consumer Unit worked closely with the City Attorney and California Attorney General to hold Walmart accountable and protect the consumer,” San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said. “Law enforcement has a duty to make sure businesses follow the law, compete fairly in the marketplace, and charge the prices they advertise.”

State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris was also involved in the prosecution.

Prosecutors allege that Walmart failed to comply with the requirements of the 2008 judgment because they failed to deduct $3 from the price of an item when there was an overcharge; they failed to post signs at every register; and they continued to charge more than the advertised price on some items. Today, Walmart agreed to resolve these allegations without admitting any violation, but by paying an additional sum of $2.1 million and extending the “Get it Free” program another year.

The San Diego County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures inspected local Walmart stores to determine whether they were complying with the 2008 court order. The agency takes complaints from members of the public who believe they have been overcharged by businesses at (858) 694-2778. Other counties’ weights and measures inspectors also provided reports to prosecutors in this matter.