LOS ANGELES – Sears, Roebuck and Company and Kmart today
agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle a civil lawsuit alleging the
retailers engaged in dishonest business practices that caused
consumers to overpay for items advertised for less and subjected
consumers to unlawful prices for certain beverage containers.
“These retailers are established, trusted household names. When
consumers set foot in their stores, they have a reasonable
expectation to receive fair and lawful prices,” District Attorney
Steve Cooley said.
“A company that engages in deceptive advertising to bait
consumers or deliberately overcharges customers will be sued to
assure compliance with the law,” Cooley added.
Deputy District Attorney Stuart Lytton of the Consumer Protection
Division said both companies agreed to the settlement without
admitting liability. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s
Office with the District Attorneys of five other California counties
– Marin, Alameda, Sonoma, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties –
filed the civil complaint in Marin County Superior Court.
Sears and Kmart, whose principal companies are based in Hoffman
Estates, Ill., agreed to pay civil penalties and legal costs
incurred by prosecutors and investigators. Under the terms of the
stipulated judgment, the companies further agreed to desist from
making false or misleading statements to the public with respect to
the price of items advertised for sale.
The retailers must additionally maintain compliance programs for
a period of three years to enhance pricing accuracy and correct
pricing errors. Sears and Kmart will be required to conduct in-store
audits no less than once a week and will be subject to independent,
third-party audits at least once a year.
The civil action stems from an investigation into pricing and
scanning practices conducted by various California weights and
measures agencies, including the Los Angeles County Weights and
That investigation revealed that Sears and Kmart charged more
than their advertised prices. The investigation also revealed that
Kmart violated the California Beverage Container Recycling and
Litter Reduction Act by charging more for California Redemption
Value (CRV) beverage containers than allowed by law. Kmart also
charged consumers the CRV fee for containers not covered under state
The stipulated judgment was signed today by Marin Superior Court
Judge Verna Adams.
Editors: For additional information, contact Deputy District
Attorney Stuart Lytton of the Los Angeles D.A.’s Consumer Protection
Division, at 213-580-3319.