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CVS Agrees to Pay Nearly $2 Million in Alleged Price-Scanning Violations

The complaint alleges 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.

CVS Pharmacy Inc. agreed this week to pay nearly $2 million in civil penalties, restitution and investigative costs for alleged unlawful and unfair business practices.

The fines are are in connection with alleged price-scanning violations, Riverside County District Attorney Paul E. Zellerbach announced today.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office joined prosecutors in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in bringing the action against the Rhode Island-based corporation, said John Hall, spokesperson for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

The entry of a Stipulated Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction against CVS Pharmacy Inc. alleging unlawful and unfair business practices including price-scanning violations was signed Wednesday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis.

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 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 Friday in a news release.

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

Without admitting any 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.

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.

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

"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. Pursuant to the agreement, CVS/pharmacy worked cooperatively with the DA offices and did not admit any wrongdoing," DeAngelis told Patch in an email.

There are 45 CVS stores in Riverside County, including .

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

Contact information and citizen complaint forms can be found at Rivcoag.org.

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