Walgreen Co. (WAG:US), the biggest U.S. drugstore chain, is charging consumers more money for certain items at the cash register than they’re shown to cost in store aisle displays, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said.
Koster, in a St. Louis press conference today, said he’s suing the retailer for false and misleading advertising, citing as an example a package of Oreo-brand cookies, shown to cost $3.29 for which a shopper was charged $4.19.
The case is the result of a two-month investigation during which investigators went into eight stores in five cities including St. Louis, Kansas City and the state capital, Jefferson City, he said.
“Walgreens has gotten under my skin,” Koster said as he announced the commencement of litigation. The stores’ alleged practice, he said, was “inexcusable for a corporation as sophisticated as Walgreens.”
Investigators made 205 purchases and were overcharged 43 times, in prices ranging from a few cents to $15 he said, adding victims are frequently the poor, the elderly and people with small children who many not have the ability to look closely at their receipts.
Jim Graham, a spokesman for the Deerfield, Illinois-based company, declined to immediately comment on the attorney general’s allegations.
The penalty is $1,000 per violation, according to the attorney general. “This is not about money. We intend to fix this problem,” he said.
The lawsuit was filed in Kansas City, Koster said. The filing couldn’t be immediately confirmed in court records.
The case is State of Missouri v. Walgreen Co., Jackson County state court (Kansas City).
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