Wal-Mart settles NY false advertising case
by Carol Thompson
Retail giant Wal-Mart has reached a settlement with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after his office launched an investigation into false advertising.
The attorney general’s office investigated Wal-Mart’s advertising for a Father’s Day sale, which listed 12-packs of Coca-Cola products on sale for $3. The AG’s office found that customers were charged $3.50 for the beverages.
According to Schneiderman, Wal-Mart sold 66,000 12-packs of Coca-Cola products at the inflated price in New York stores in both March and June.
Wal-Mart employees offered a couple of excuses for the higher price, according to Schneiderman. Staff at a Buffalo-area store claimed that the price listed in a newspaper circular was a national advertisement and didn’t apply to sales in New York. Other Wal-Mart employees said it was because of the state’s “Sugar Tax,” however, the state doesn’t have a sugar tax.
The investigation also found cash registers at stores weren’t programmed to recognize the sale price of Coca-Cola 12-packs. Wal-Mart has taken steps to correct that issue, according to Schneiderman.
The sale of products at more than 16 percent the advertised price is a violation of New York State law.
“Whether it’s securing the largest financial settlements in U.S. history to address misconduct that crashed the economy, or settling cases with the nation’s largest retailers, this office will continue to stand on the side of ordinary New Yorkers,” Schneiderman said.
As part of the settlement, Wal-Mart will pay more than $66,000 in penalties to the state. The settlement also requires the company to improve its internal reporting to act on information when consumers complain about overcharges.