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 user 2007-09-14 at 11:13:00 am Views: 62
  • #18754

    Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores A. Carr announced today that her office joined with the District Attorneys of Marin, Sonoma, Ventura, Solano, Napa, Shasta, Sacramento, and Los Angeles counties, and the City Attorney of the City of Los Angeles, to settle a consumer protection case filed against Office Depot, Inc. the operator of “Office Depot” stores through California. The initial investigation arose out of inspections of Office Depot’s checkout scanners by state and local Weights and Measures inspectors. The Stipulated Final Judgment was approved by the Santa Clara County Superior Court.Office Depot cooperated with prosecutors during the investigation and agreed to additional price check programs to enhance its pricing accuracy. Under the terms of the settlement, without admitting any wrongdoing, Office Depot, Inc., agreed to pay $2,300,000 in civil penalties and $285,791 to reimburse costs of investigation. Office Depot will also offer restitution to the public in the form of a coupon good for $5.00 off in-store purchases at California Office Depot stores. The coupon will be prominently placed in an Office Depot Sunday ad circular to be published within the next several months. Office Depot will also provide a price guarantee of up to $5.00 if, at the time of purchase, a consumer is charged a price that is higher than the lowest advertised price for an item. This price guarantee will be posted in every store in California.District Attorney Carr acknowledged the efforts of Weights and Measures officials in monitoring retail pricing so that consumers get the correct prices when they shop. Carr said, “Most scanner overcharges by stores are the result of carelessness or negligence rather than an intentional act. But businesses must establish procedures and devote resources to promote price accuracy. Our office brings actions such as this to ensure that businesses comply with their responsibilities. Consumers should also be vigilant at the cash register to make sure they are charged the correct price for the items they purchase.”

    Office Depot settles consumer protection suit for $2.5 million

    Office Depot settled a $2.5 million consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday that was initiated by Shasta County.The settlement, which included seven other counties in California, stemmed from a customer complaint in 2002 out of the Cypress Avenue store in Redding, said Shasta County Deputy District Attorney Erin Dervin, who prosecuted the case.Investigators found that in some instances, the store failed to charge the correct prices for merchandise — either because scanners were improperly programmed or because workers failed to take down old sale signs.When the investigation broadened, it was determined that the problems existed at other stores in California.”The problem was in their computer system, so the same problem at the Cypress Store was happening at their Dana Drive store (in Redding), their stores in Sacramento, Riverside,” Dervin said.Office Depot Inc. agreed to pay $2.3 million in civil penalties and $285,791 to reimburse investigation costs. The store also will offer $5-off coupons to customers. The coupons will appear in a future Office Depot Sunday newspaper advertisement.What’s more, Office Depot will offer customers a price guarantee of up to $5 if, at any time of purchase, a shopper is charged a price that is higher than the lowest advertised price for an item.The settlement also involves Marin, Sonoma, Ventura, Solano, Napa, Santa Clara, Sacramento and Los Angeles counties. The suit was filed in Santa Clara County.Under terms of the deal, Shasta County will receive $230,000, which will go into the county’s general fund.The initial investigation arose from inspections of Office Depot checkout scanners by Shasta County Weights and Measures officials.Dervin said customers were overcharged an average of $12.”There were many different products. One was a two-drawer filing cabinet, but there was also something as small as a package of pens,” Dervin said.Dervin said Office Depot was not intentionally misleading customers. Rather, the problems arose from negligent behavior or simple carelessness.Dervin also commended Office Depot for its cooperation with investigators.”Office Depot did something unprecedented in the area of unfair business litigation. They opened their books to us,” Dervin said. “We were able to do a full-blown audit of every transaction in the state. That took months to get through.”