Missouri Attorney General Suing Walgreens Over Pricing Practices… Again

Barely a year after Walgreens reached a deal with the Missouri attorney general to close the state’s investigation into allegations of overcharging and deceptive advertising, the state’s top prosecutor is taking the drugstore chain back to court.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced during a press conference on Tuesday that he filed a motion to hold the drug store chain in contempt for allegedly committing more than 1,000 violations of its 2014 settlement.

The filing comes after the AG’s office conducted a one-week investigation in July that found 49 stores across the state continued to employ “shoddy” pricing practices, calling the actions a “flagrant defiance of the court’s order.”

Specifically, the investigation found instances of 1,300 expired and inaccurate sales tags on store shelves. Koster said the tags ranged from being expired by weeks to two years.

“Consumers have a right to rely on the pricing that they see on the shelves without having to verify the cost of each item in their basket when they go up to the cash register,” Koster said.

The AG’s motion seeks to fine the company up to $5,000 for every violation the investigation discovered, plus an additional fine for every day that an expired tag is found on the store shelve, the Post-Dispatch reports.

Allegations that the company continued its unfair pricing practices comes two years after the AG’s office first filed a lawsuit against the chain.

Back in 2013, Koster filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to make the chain stop using allegedly deceptive practices, and to pay unspecified fines and damages.

According to that suit, consumers were overcharged by way of outdated price displays for sale items; confusion created by multiple prices displayed for the same item; displays offering discounts for rewards members, but with no discount given; and full prices charged for items in clearance bins.

Last June, the company reached a settlement with the AG’s office that included the company employing an independent auditor monitor at its Missouri stores for three years.

The Post-Dispatch reports that since that time, Walgreens has paid the state $136,500 for pricing violations uncovered during audits.

On Tuesday, Koster reminded customers to be “vigilant”while shopping at the drug store chain.

If a customer finds they have been overcharged while shopping at the store, Koster says they are entitled to reimbursement: overcharges for an item under $5 is entitled to receive that item for free, while overcharges on products more than $5 will receive a $10 store gift card and the item at the lowest advertised price.

Walgreens’ issues with pricing haven’t been relegated to the Show Me State. The company previously agreed to pay $1.4 million in civil penalties as the result of a California price discrepancy case, and settled claims in Wisconsin that it scanned inaccurate prices and didn’t post refund notices at store.

Koster accuses Walgreens of violating 2014 pricing settlement [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.