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article imageWoman sues Walmart over 2 cents, wins against retail giant

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By Leigh Goessl     Oct 2, 2011 in Business
Delmont - Mary Bach, a consumer advocate, has been steadily fighting what she deems unfair pricing acts by various retailers. Her most recent victory was against a Walmart store located in Delmont, Pa.
What happened was Bach bought sausages, advertised at .98, and was charged $1.00 for the package. Not being the first time this store has overcharged her, Bach immediately brought the .02 overcharge to the attention of the store. However six days later, she noticed the price adjustment still had not been made to reflect the correct price after she made subsequent purchases, so she took the store to court.
The basis of Bach's complaint was that Walmart's practices violate the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act of 1968.
"When they lure you to buy a product at one price, and then they electronically overcharge you by charging a higher price at the checkout, it's electronic bait-and-switch, and it's that simple," Bach told Team 4 investigative reporter Jim Parsons.
And she has the receipts to prove it. The District Judge Charles Conway ruled in favor of Bach, and Walmart was ordered to pay the consumer advocate $180.50; $100 in damages and the rest for court fees.
Over the years Bach has sued many retailers. Walmart is frequently cited as a defendant on her lawsuits, and this particular Walmart has been listed as a defendant numerous times on Bach's complaints.
Back in 2009 Bach sued the Delmont Walmart over 68 cents and Walmart settled, giving her $266.
In July 2010, the consumer advocate filed a complaint against a different local Walmart in Pa. for charging sales tax on the full amount of a purchase, even if the consumer pays less through use of a coupon.
In this case, Jeff Snavely, PA Revenue Dept.said this practice is legal. In order to change, the state tax code would need to be rewritten. Snavely said retailers will continue to charge the full amount until [if ] a time comes where this loophole was closed.
About that case Bach told WGAL, "there are lots of other retailers that do it right, and if other retailers can get it correct, then why can't Walmart?"
Walmart reportedly gets one percent of all state tax collected by paying its taxes on time. Additionally, this law is not likely to be changed as the state would lose money. About this incident, Walmart's response to WGAL News was, "Wal Mart's current systems, with respect to the collection and remittance of sales tax, are in compliance with Pennsylvania's tax laws."
With regard to the current case, WPXI reported Bach said, "This is the fifth lawsuit that I have now won against this store, this Delmont Walmart for the same problem: practice of putting up a shelf tag that was lower than the price charged at the cash register."
While in past complaints the retailer has settled, this time Walmart said it disagrees with the ruling and may appeal.
Bach maintains it's not about the money, but her effort is to bring attention to unfair overcharges and awareness to other consumers, ultimately resulting in fair pricing practices. According to some news sources, local consumers agree and applaud her efforts.
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