Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has sued Walgreens, the largest pharmacy chain in America, for allegedly charging customers more than the prices displayed on the shelves for many items, the Chicago Tribune says.
Investigators visited eight locations over two months, the AG’s office says. They purchased 205 products, and found 43 price discrepancies. That means they were overcharged 21 percent of the time.
There is “a pattern of advertising lower prices on display tags, but charging higher prices at the checkout,” the office says. Even when the Walgreens rewards card, which offers savings on some items, was used, prices didn’t always match what was advertised. Sale display tags were also left up past the expiration date, investigators found.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against deceptive pricing, reimbursement for the investigation and legal expenses, and civil penalties.
“We were disappointed and disagree with the attorney general’s comments,” Walgreens said in a statement quoted by the Tribune. “However, we are prepared to have a constructive dialogue about the issues he raised and address any appropriate concerns.”
The amount of overcharges was sometimes significant; purchases were mislabeled by as much as $15 in some cases, The Kansas City Star says. Merchandise marked as clearance also sometimes rang up at full price.
This is the third round of pricing trouble for Walgreens this year, says The Associated Press. “In January, Walgreen agreed to pay more than $1.4 million in civil penalties and to establish a price guarantee program in California after four Bay Area counties sued over price discrepancies,” it says. And in March, the company paid about $30,000 to settle claims over inaccurate prices.