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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fined for overcharging customers

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to pay $2.1 million for overcharging consumers because of scanning errors in a number of its California stores, according to California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.

The modified agreement is the result of the retail giant’s failure to comply with a 2008 judgment that required the retail chain to resolve errors in pricing at checkout stands, according to Harris.

"Consumers should feel confident that the price on the shelf will be the same price they are charged at the cash register," said Harris. "Californians who shop at Walmart should know that they have the right to ask for the appropriate discount."

Steve Restivo, Senior Director of Community Affairs for Walmart, released this statement: “Walmart is committed to delivering everyday low prices on products our customers need for their home and family. We always strive for 100% pricing accuracy and will continue to make improvements to ensure we meet this goal. California families can trust Walmart to deliver on our mission to help them save money and live better.”

The overcharge claims resulted from a 2005 investigation by California’s attorney general that found 164 stores in 30 counties had made scanning errors which resulted in customers paying more than the listed price.

Though Walmart attempted to fix the problem, additional government monitoring found continued errors in pricing at Walmart checkout stands in 2010, which resulted in the new judgment stipulation and fine.

Walmart agreed to give customers who were overcharged at the cash register an immediate $3 off the lowest advertised price of the item. If the price was less than $3, the item was to be given to the consumer for free.

The $3 off program was originally scheduled to end in November, but the recent action has extended it to November 2013.

Walmart will also be required to put new, large signs describing the policy, in both English and Spanish, at each of the approximately 3,000 checkout stands at its 180 stores and supercenters in California.

Wal-Mart has also agreed to designate a person at every Walmart store in California to ensure pricing accuracy. Any price discrepancy must be reported within three hours to the company’s Bentonville headquarters, which receives and maintains price audit information, consumer complaints and inspection reports for all California Walmart stores.

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A copy of the judgment and the sign that will be posted at all Walmart checkout stands in California.

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