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Judge orders Fresh & Easy to pay $833,136 for San Diego & Riverside County stores that charged over posted prices


Stores in San Diego, Riverside charged more for meat, seafood than price marked on shelves


Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
Issue 04, Volume 17.


SAN DIEGO - San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced today, January 22, that San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp has ordered Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Inc., the owner of Fresh & Easy grocery stores to pay $833,136 and to institute a "Get it Free" Program to settle a consumer protection case filed by the San Diego District Attorney’s, San Diego City Attorney’s, and Riverside District Attorney’s Consumer & Environmental Protection Units.

Prosecutors filed a civil complaint alleging that the owners of Fresh & Easy stores posted prices and advertisements in stores of the prices that would be charged for items and then charged more than those prices at the time of checkout. In addition, prosecutors alleged that meat and seafood packages in its meat department were marked a higher price per pound than the shelf prices indicated. The prosecutors allege these actions violated the laws prohibiting false advertising and unfair competition. There are 163 Fresh & Easy stores in California, 17 of those are in San Diego County.

"Our Consumer Protection Unit works to make sure San Diegans get what they pay for," said DA Dumanis. In this latest case, our prosecutors did an outstanding job collaborating with the City Attorney and Riverside DA’s Advertisement
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Office to arrive at today’s significant judgment."

The court ordered Fresh & Easy not to commit violations in the future and imposed a penalty of $653,470, costs of $97,163 and restitution of $80,000. In addition, for the next three years, shoppers at Fresh & Easy stores throughout California will be entitled to get $3 off the lowest advertised price of an item when they are overcharged at the register. If the lowest advertised price for the item is $3 or less, then the customer will receive it for free.

The case was brought to prosecutors by weights and measures officials in 12 counties in California when they documented scanner and package overcharges during 124 inspections of 82 different Fresh & Easy stores. The San Diego County Division of Weights and Measures was the agency that inspected Fresh & Easy stores in San Diego County. The agency takes complaints from members of the public who believe they have been overcharged by businesses, at (858) 694-2778.

San Diego City Attorney Jan I. Goldsmith said "Our citizens need to have confidence when they shop that the price advertised is the one that is charged. Actions like this are important to ensure that businesses deal fairly with their customers and compete fairly in the marketplace."


 

8 comments

Comment Profile ImageVet and Citizen
Comment #1 | Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:56 am
I hope they get this worked out. Best store by far in Fallbrook...

Is there any truth to the rumor going around Fallbrook that they were actually sued by the other 2 food stores for "charging unfair lower prices" to where the bigger stores couldn't compete??

How would you know when "entitled to get $3 off the lowest advertised price of an item.."

Thanks for the update VN.
Comment Profile ImageLynn p
Comment #2 | Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm
Fresh and easy wont be around for more than a few months anyway. The overcharges are on items in the store (meat, fish) that go on ad and haven't had the original pricing changed on the package. The F&E in my area gives the item free if the price is incorrect. You would know if you are "entitled" if you are paying attention to your register/purchases and let the customer assistant know.
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #3 | Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm
I have shopped at F&E a couple of times but I must say that I still prefer Major Market. Not only is their meat and produce fresh and delicious but their ready made meals are, in my opinion, superior to those at F&E. The staff is always friendly and obliging at Major and they are always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty when helping out our community.
Comment Profile ImageWrenchers
Comment #4 | Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm
Agreed Pink.

Major Market is great part of the community because they support the community suppliers.

And Yes... Major's meat counter sets the high standard.
Comment Profile ImageMom of lots
Comment #5 | Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm
I save hundreds of dollars per month on my grocery bill shopping at Fresh and Easy. I save $7-10 for every $50 I spend there, plus custom coupons to my shopping list they send me via e-mail- and there is not limit. For instance, I had a coupon for $1 off of their vanilla. I could buy 10 vanillas and save $10. Plus, for every certain amount I spend, I use my Friend's card there an get $5+ off my bill depending on how many points I have. I understand the company overall is not fairing well, however, Fallbrook is one of their most successful stores. I shop regularly at Major Market as well- I purchase their fresh meats, organic produce and fresh breads. Ironically, though I buy way more from F&E, my weekly bill at Major Market is about the same as F&E, but well worth it. You get what you pay for and I am willing to pay a higher price for fresh meats and organic produce. F&E sells organic produce as well, but it is not as fresh. I do purchase F&E organic produce as well and have never had a problem with it. Some has been quite delicious.
Comment Profile ImageTom King
Comment #6 | Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm
Fresh & Easy supermarkets may be sold off by Tesco: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/05/business/la-fi-mo-tesco-fresh-and-easy-20121205
Comment Profile ImageNicki
Comment #7 | Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm
Right before Christmas, I bought some chicken breast that was advertised outside the store for 1.89 a pound or so. When I was at the register, it rang up at 2.99 per pound. I informed one of the clerks and she told me that only the chicken in the front section of the store was on sale. I walked over and showed her that even some in the cooler section were marked down. She then said " oh then you have to get a package that has a sticker on it with the markdown. It made no sense but I am glad I noticed because this isnt the first time I have been overcharged at this store. I like this store way better than Major Market and Albertsons-but I wished their pricing was more accurate.
Comment Profile ImageArt
Comment #8 | Thursday, Jan 24, 2013 at 8:52 am
Anyone who shops food in Fallbrook is nuts. Go to CostCo, Sams Club or the Walmart Super store.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

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