Target to pay $4M fine for overcharging customers


Target employees help customers at the checkout registers inside the Target Corp. Store. (Getty Images)

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SAN DIEGO — Target Corp., which operates 19 stores in San Diego County, will pay nearly $4 million to settle a consumer protection complaint accusing the company of overcharging customers, it was announced Wednesday.

The complaint accused the retail chain of charging higher prices at their cash-register scanners that were posted in the aisles and misrepresenting the weight of its own packaged food items.

The complaint was filed by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the District Attorney offices in Contra Costa, Sonoma, Marin, Santa Cruz and Fresno counties. The Marin County District Attorney’s Office was the lead agency.

“Consumers should be able to trust that the price they see posted in the aisle will be the price charged at the register,” said San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. “This collaboration with district attorneys throughout the state is a big win for consumer protection, as it will bring Target into compliance with the law and protect the public from future overcharging.”

Because it would be too difficult to track down each customer after the fact, money from the settlement will go toward funding for future investigations instead of customers.

“Back to the different agencies that investigate, here in San Diego County its weights and measures as well as the different prosecuting offices,” said Kathryn Turner with the City Attorney’s Office.

Under the settlement, in which Target admitted no wrongdoing, the company will pay more than $3.3 million in penalties, reimburse the investigating agencies $388,618 in costs and pay $200,000 in restitution to consumers. Additionally, Target agreed to implement new compliance procedures to help ensure price accuracy.

The settlement follows an investigation by county Weights and Measures departments in all six counties that found hundreds of violations, including leaving inaccurate expired sale prices on items and then charging more for the item at the register, according to the lawsuit.

Target was also accused of failing to comply with the terms of an injunction issued against the company pursuant to a 2008 stipulated judgment.

Under the terms of the latest settlement, Target agreed to implement additional price accuracy procedures in its California stores, including weekly price audits. Target will designate personnel to walk the entire store weekly to make sure that expired sales tags are removed from shelves.

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