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Fresh & Easy Chain to Pay $833,136 Settlement

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 will benefit from 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 and all will benefit from the lawsuit.

“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.”

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 overchages 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.

Lorraine Pozniak January 22, 2013 at 11:56 PM
This just happened to me the other day at my local Fresh & Easy in Fontana. The item was supposed to be $2.50, but it rang up as $2.99. The lady did an override and took off 50 cents, but that's all that was done about it. When does this "Get it Free" program start? Ralphs used to do something similar, but I don't think they'll give the item to you for free anymore...
nobodyuno January 23, 2013 at 04:26 PM
So the consumers get ripped off and the government gets paid, again!!! What is this money going to be used for??? Now if we could just get them to go after the sheisters gouging us at the pumps!!!
Maria January 24, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Oh please. You scan your own items at F&E. You can clearly see when the computer overcharges you. You call someone over and they'll override the price for you. It's not like they won't honor the price if you point it out. It's only happened to me once at F&E and I've been shopping there every week since it opened. It's happened at nearly every grocery store I've visited over the years. It's probably poor inventory/price controls. They're not gouging you, and you certainly don't need to get anything "free" for it.

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