BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Walgreens and its New York City subsidiary, Duane Reade, are paying the price for overcharging customers, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The price, a half million dollars in fines and penalties to the State of New York.
The drugstore chain reached a settlement with the Attorney General, after an undercover investigation revealed evidence Walgreens misled customers about so-called discounts and often charged retail price for merchandise it advertised as on sale.
Schneiderman said sometimes shelf prices were expired, leading to an unpleasant surprise at checkout, “An undercover investigation by my office found that the drugstores promoted prices in ads, and on store shelves, that differed from what consumers were actually charged at the register.”
The Attorney General accused Walgreens of deceiving consumers into buying targeted merchandise, labeling it a “Smart Buy”, or a “Great Buy” when the advertised price was the same as their regular retail price.
“The stores also misled consumers by promoting products as a ‘Smart Buy’, ‘Great Buy’, or as being a ‘Last Chance’ offer when the so-called sales lasted nearly a year, where consumers were receiving no discount at all.”
As part of the settlement, Walgreens has agreed to remove expired shelf tags within 36 hours, restrict how Walgreens tags merchandise as a “Smart Buy” or “Great Buy”, and the retailer has agreed to refrain from promoting products as “Clearance” or “Last Chance” if they will be available for extended periods of time.
Walgreens issued a brief statement, saying in part, “Of the customer enhancements described in our agreement with the Attorney General, many have already been implemented over several recent months.”
“Our intention is to keep improving every day to offer our customers both great value and a rewarding shopping experience.”
Schneiderman also found Walgreens failed to provide clear guidance for its customers in its loyalty rewards program. So now the 251 stores in New York will be updating their technology to make it easier for customers to redeem their “Balance Reward Points” at checkout.