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CVS Settles $2 Million Consumer Lawsuit

Consumers who believe they may have been overcharged by any company, including CVS, may contact their local Weights and Measures office.

CVS Pharmacy Inc. of Rhode Island, which operates two stores in Glendora, has settled a $2 million consumer lawsuit alleging false advertising and price-scanning violations, prosecutors announced Friday.

The action was brought against CVS Pharmacy Inc. - which does business as CVS/pharmacy - by prosecutors from district attorney’s offices in Los Angeles, Riverside and Ventura counties, Riverside D.A. spokesman John Hall said in a statement.

"The civil complaint, filed in Los Angeles County, alleges that CVS violated the law through false and misleading advertising and unlawful and unfair business practices -- including charging an amount greater than the lowest advertised price, commonly referred to as 'scanning violations,'" Hall said.

The complaint also alleges CVS misrepresented discounts customers would receive when the earning of a discount was contingent upon a subsequent event, Hall said.

Without admitting wrongdoing or liability, the stipulation by CVS to the entry of Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction requires CVS to obey the law, institute a scanner accuracy program, and pay $1.2 million in civil penalties, Hall said.

CVS is also required to pay more than $420,000 in investigative costs, $300,000 restitution to the Division of Measurement Standards, and $100,000 restitution to the Consumer Protection Trust, which helps fund the enforcement of consumer protection laws, Hall said.

Mike DeAngelis, director of CVS Public Relations, confirmed the settlement in an email from Rhode Island.

"CVS/pharmacy has entered into a settlement agreement with the District Attorneys for Los Angeles, Riverside and Ventura Counties to resolve allegations that some prices scanned at the register during checkout did not match the advertised sale price," DeAngelis said.

"The agreement formalizes the auditing practices and employee training program we put in place to ensure that our prices are accurate," DeAngelis said.

"Under this agreement, we will guarantee up to $2 off if a customer is charged a higher price for a product than what is advertised," DeAngelis said. "Pursuant to the agreement, CVS/pharmacy worked cooperatively with the DA offices and did not admit any wrongdoing."

The judgment incorporates a "Scan Right" guarantee program at CVS beginning 90 days from the date of Final Judgment and running for three years, Hall said.

With that program, if an item scans at a price higher than the lowest advertised or shelf price, CVS will either give the item to the customer for free if the price is $2 or less or, if the item is priced more than $2, CVS must deduct $2 from the lowest advertised price, Hall said.

The case was brought to the attention of authorities by the California Division of Measurement Standards and county Weights and Measures officials, Hall said.

The "Stipulated Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction" were signed Aug. 17, 2011, by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis, Hall said.

Consumers who believe they may have been overcharged by any company, including CVS, were urged to contact their local Weights and Measures office.

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