Auto Service World
News   July 14, 2006   by Auto Service World

Arizona Pricing Woes


According to a report last week from consumeraffairs.com, Arizona’s Attorney General has filed consumer based lawsuits against parts retailers AutoZone and Wal-Mart for what they say is a deliberate failure to correct pricing violations is many of their outlets across the state.
In the past, organizations such as Pep-Boys have found themselves with similar problems, and both Wal-Mart and AutoZone have been cited and warned by the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures (DWM) during the past five years for discrepancies between posted prices and checkout prices and for failing to post shelf prices on many products, Attorney General Terry Goddard said.
According to the article, both companies have, in the past, pleaded no contest to the violations, and paid substantial fines, but have yet to correct the problem.
“Price accuracy is a fundamental consumer right which these companies have repeatedly abused,” Goddard said.
“The state has made every effort to work with both of these retailers to no avail. When retailers fail to post and scan correct prices, there is no reasonable way for Arizona consumers to comparison shop. Shopping should not be a game of chance.”
According to state law, a violation in pricing occurs when the posted shelf-price and check-out price do not fall within a 2% margin of error, as determined during random tests by state officers.
It was reported that over the last five years, both of the companies in question have failed half of their respective tests.
“AutoZone and Wal-Mart evidently see paying fines as the cost of doing business rather than making the effort to correct the problem,” Goddard said. “Consumers have a legal right to know the accurate price of a product when they shop. These companies have consistently failed to comply with the law.”
According to the government agencies, the fines accumulated by these two retailers are substantial and growing.
In fact, AutoZone has been fined more than $170,000 and Wal-Mart is well on its way to the half-million dollar mark, with fines currently in excess of $450,000, making it the most heavily fined retailer.
“Wal-Mart has tried to defend its inaccurate pricing by saying that while some customers are overcharged, others are undercharged,” Goddard said. “It is not a defense to say we only defraud some of our customers some of the time.”


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