Walmart and Target Are Under Fire for Allegedly Overcharging Shoppers
Customers are being invited to share their experiences in an ongoing investigation.
It's fair to say that we're all paying closer attention to our receipts these days. Inflation continues to drive food prices up—and the steady increase isn't expected to let up any time soon. As two of the largest U.S. retailers, Walmart and Target are ideal for one-stop, affordable shopping, but recently, they've also caught some flak for overcharging. Read on to learn more about ongoing lawsuits against these companies, and what you can do if you were recently charged too much.
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Two class action suits were filed.
In Aug. 2022, Yoram Kahn filed two separate class action lawsuits against both Walmart, Inc. and Target Corporation, Top Class Actions reported. Kahn's suits allege that both retailers have "shelf pricing" that "frequently misrepresents the prices consumers are charged at the point of sale."
Kahn claims this is false advertising, violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act and the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. According to Kahn, many easily fall for this "bait and switch."
"Consumers reasonably rely on Shelf Pricing to make informed purchasing decisions, and reasonably expect to pay the advertised Shelf Price when they reach the checkout," both lawsuits state. However, Walmart customers allegedly pay 5 to 10 percent more due to price misrepresentations, while Target shoppers pay an extra 5 to 20 percent more.
In response to the lawsuits, a Walmart spokesperson previously told Best Life, "We encourage customers to bring pricing inaccuracies to our associates' attention, and we will happily address the matter. We are reviewing the Complaint and will respond in Court as appropriate after we are served."
Target did not respond to requests for comment.
There's an ongoing investigation.
According to Top Class Actions, legal entities are looking into these claims—and you may want to be a part of it. The page outlining the investigation says that Kahn isn't the only one affected by these issues, and many customers have noticed pricing differences.
"Target and Walmart are alleged to charge more at checkout for items than the prices listed on the shelves," the page reads. "Many customers may not notice the difference. Other customers may notice the discrepancy but may not want to take the time out of their day to protest the issue. As a result, Walmart and Target are making hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from these deceptive practices."
The site notes that price differences are often small—but that's not always the case. And if you're a frequent Target or Walmart shopper, that extra cash can add up over time.
If you've been charged more at the register at Walmart or Target, you're encouraged to join the investigation and fill out a form online. Those who qualify will be contacted by an attorney for the case, per Top Class Actions.
Both companies were just flagged for overcharging in North Carolina.
The overcharging class action suit is picking up steam, but the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) already has both Target and Walmart on its radar.
Last week, the agency announced that the retailers were among several businesses fined for price scanner errors, resulting in customers being overcharged. Six North Carolina Walmart stores were fined, per a Jan. 30 NCDA&CS press release, with fines amounting to a grand total of $22,830. Three Target stores paid up as well, shelling out $13,810.
They weren't the only two retailers to come under fire, however: Dollar General and Family Dollar were actually the biggest offenders. In total, Dollar General paid approximately $136,795 after price scanner errors were reported at 23 locations, while 15 Family Dollar stores were on the hook for roughly $155,000, per the press release.
Dollar General is facing a separate lawsuit.
While Walmart and Target face backlash from individual shoppers, Dollar General is dealing with a statewide lawsuit. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against the dollar store chain on Nov. 1, 2022, claiming that customers are being charged too much at the register.
Almost three months later, Dollar General stores temporarily closed for a day in order to re-tag their shelf prices. But Yost said that the state is continuing its efforts, having also filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar for the same reason late last year.
"Ohio's Dollar General stores are shutting down to re-tag all their shelf prices—exactly the reason we sued them," Yost tweeted on Jan. 27. "Glad to see this first step—but we are going to insist on the court order to enforce continued compliance with Ohio's market fairness laws."