Back in August 2013, Walgreens promised a Missouri court that it would remove price tags from items within 12 hours of their expiration, to ensure that customers weren't overcharged.
But now, just a little more than two years later, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a motion for contempt after a new investigation allegedly found stores are routinely deceiving customers with expired price tags.
According to Koster, his investigators visited 50 Walgreens stores across the state July 26 through September 1 and found over 1,300 expired sales tags in 49 of the stores. Hundreds of these tags were weeks past their expiration date, with two that had expired in 2013, he said. 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 “Consumers should not have to dig through outdated and incorrect information to find out the true price of any item.”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 Tuesday 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.
30 stores failed an audit
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.”