JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KSDK) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a civil lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court against Walgreen Co. for false, misleading, and deceptive advertising.
Koster announced the lawsuit Tuesday morning at a press conference at the St. Louis Attorney General's Office in downtown St. Louis. He says the suit comes after a two month investigation by his office which he says revealed "a pattern of advertising lower prices on display tags, but charging higher prices at checkout."
The investigation included visits to eight random Walgreens stores in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Jefferson City, and Osage Beach in June and July. Various items were purchased, and nearly every store showed the price for some items at the checkout to be greater than the price displayed. Koster says his office found they were overcharged for nearly 21 percent of the products purchased, with 43 price discrepancies out of 205 purchased products.
According to the lawsuit, sale tags were left on shelves beyond their expiration date, causing some of the pricing inconsistencies.
"Consumers have a right to expect the price they will pay at the register is the same as the price displayed on the shelf," said Koster. "The sheer volume of tags on the shelves makes it nearly impossible to recall the details of each offer. Consumers should not have to double-check the price tags or signage and compare them to the prices charged at the register."
The suit also alleges Walgreens' "Balance Rewards" program, which promises savings, does not always deliver on the advertised promise.
Koster is seeking an injunction to prohibit Walgreens from deceptive pricing, civil penalties, and reimbursement for the cost of the investigation and prosecution.
If you have been a victim of or observed deceptive pricing at Walgreens or any other retailer, Koster wants to hear from you. Call the Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or visit his website.
Walgreens issued the following statement:
"We have a 112-year history of acting in our customers' best interests, and that will continue to be our focus. While we won't comment on the complaint itself, we were disappointed and disagree with the attorney general's comments. However, we are prepared to have a constructive dialogue about the issues he raised and address any appropriate concerns."