We’ve all seen them: The ads from retail stores that shout about massive savings off of “regular” prices, and that typically display graphics of the higher, regular prices crossed out, with the lower sale prices underneath in bright, bold font.
While many of us tend to take such declarations with a grain of salt, there’s still a strong tendency to believe that there is a great deal to be had if we run out and buy right away at the sale price being touted.
It turns out that, however, that much of this advertising is not truthful, and Los Angeles prosecutors have decided they aren’t having any of it. According to WSBT 22, attorneys for the city have decided to sue four of the nation’s largest retailers – J.C. Penney, Sears, Kohl’s, and Macy’s – for deceptive advertising in connection with the alleged practice of falsely claiming higher “regular” merchandise prices so that customers would believe they were scoring bigger deals on what were supposed to be bargain purchases.
Per California law, a retailer may not legally reference a higher regular or “original” price in advertising unless the merchandise had actually been sold at that price within three months of the ad.
According to one of the lawsuits, it is alleged that J.C. Penney was selling a bathing suit top back in February for $31.99, saying it was marked down from an “original” price of $46, when the retailer had never actually sold the merchandise for $46.
Prosecutors allege that the total number of sale items subject to false reference pricing by these retailers is in the thousands. In addition to penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation, they are seeking injunctions to bring the deceptive pricing practices to a permanent end.
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