Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Attorney general files contempt motion against Walgreens
Attorney General Chris Koster announced today that he has filed a motion for contempt against Walgreen Co. of Illinois, after a new Attorney General’s Office investigation found stores are routinely deceiving customers with expired tags displayed in stores.
According to Koster, his office visited 50 Walgreens stores across the state July 26th through September 1st and found over 1,300 expired sales tags in 49 of the stores, despite a court order in which Walgreens promised to remove tags within 12 hours of their expiration. Hundreds of these tags were weeks past their expiration date, with two that had expired in 2013. The court order was entered following an agreement between Walgreens and the Attorney General’s office to resolve Koster’s August 2013 lawsuit for expired and incorrect tags.
“My office’s 2013 investigation showed a relationship between expired tags and consumers being overcharged at the register,” Koster said. “Consumers should not have to dig through outdated and incorrect information to find out the true price of any item.”
The contempt motion filed today in Jackson County Circuit Court asks the court to find that Walgreens has violated the court’s order and fine the company up to $5,000 for every expired tag that was discovered by investigators during the recent inspections, plus an additional penalty for every day that an expired tag is found to be hanging in a store in the future.
Koster said Walgreens has already paid the state of Missouri $136,500 for pricing violations found in regularly scheduled independent audits that are also required by the court’s order. Thirty Walgreens stores have failed these audits and several failed more than once, with one store failing six times in a row. In all, Walgreens stores have failed 53 audits in the last year.
“I promised Missouri consumers that we were going to stay on Walgreens’ back until it corrected its deceptive ways,” Koster said. “It is the stores’ responsibility to ensure fair and accurate pricing. We are not going to quit until Walgreens gets it right.”
As part of the 2014 agreed to order, consumers are also entitled to Consumer Vigilance Awards from Walgreens when they are overcharged at the register because there is an incorrect or expired tag which shows the wrong price. Under that program:
A consumer who is overcharged for an item that costs $5 or less will receive the item for free.
A consumer who is overcharged for an item that costs more than $5 will receive a Walgreens gift card worth $10, plus receive the item at the lowest advertised price.
Koster encouraged any consumers who see expired or incorrect tags at a Walgreens store to take a picture of the tag and send it to the Attorney General’s Office at ago.mo.gov. Consumers can also contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.