Walmart’s motion to dismiss class action claims brought against it for allegedly overcharging consumers for reduced-price weighted goods, such as beef, poultry, and pork, was recently denied in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.
Plaintiff Vassilios Kukorinis is seeking remedy from Walmart for alleged unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable business practices after Walmart stores allegedly charged a higher total price then what the unit price per pound reflected on the yellow sales labels used to signal reduced price. He claims Walmart overcharged him three times, including one instance in which Walmart charged $10.10 for a 9.13 pound spiral ham at a unit price of $0.69 per pound that should have only cost $6.30.
Walmart uses bright yellow sales labels placed on top of its regular white labels to convey a reduced price for weighted goods nearing expiration. The yellow labels provide the weight in pounds of the goods, the unit price per pound, the total price, and the savings between the original price and sales price. The court order denying Walmart’s motion to dismiss noted the yellow sales labels “are designed to, and do, induce consumers into believing they are getting more product for their money.” The judge found the plaintiff sufficiently alleged claims of unjust enrichment and violation of unfair or deceptive acts and practices laws because the inconsistent yellow sales labels would deceive an objectively reasonable purchaser comparing prices of similar products.
This denial serves as an important reminder that businesses must ensure consumers receive the full and accurate value of the goods or services provided in product labels or descriptions at the time of purchase. Businesses should validate their pricing systems and refresh their pricing policies & procedures to ensure accurate presentation of prices.
* Aaron Parry contributed to this post.
A Partner at M&S, Josh advises clients on a range of proactive and responsive matters, helping them achieve their business goals while complying with federal and state privacy and other consumer protection laws.