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3 On Your Side: Walgreens Price Tag Problem

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New tonight at 11, a popular retailer displaying sale prices that don’t pay off at the register! 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan goes undercover to show you where it’s happening and how to avoid it.

When shopping at Walgreens you may want to bring along a magnifying glass and a calendar in addition to your wallet!  That’s because the prices posted aren’t all that they seem.

At the Bridge Street Walgreens in Philadelphia batteries looked like they were on sale for $8.99, but we paid $10.99.  And on Kings Highway in Cherry Hill diapers were two packs for $11, but we paid $17.98, almost seven bucks more.  Why?  Because while the sale sticker was still posted, the sale had actually expired!

From floor cleaners to flashlights, detergent to dog food, 3 On Your Side went undercover and found sticker-after-expired-sticker still on display. The sale expiration dates found in the lower right corner of the sales tag were sometimes days or even weeks old.  But you have to look closely for the tiny print that says “good thru”.

It happened at Walgreens in Magnolia, Lindenwold and Pennsauken too, where an SD memory card was more than 50% off, but the sale had expired 10 days earlier!   The manager didn’t even notice as he lifted the out-dated tag to unlock the display.  So much for getting deal. Instead of paying $19.99, I paid $41.49.  In fact on our shopping trips we were charged the higher price 28 times!

In a statement to CBS 3 Walgreens says they welcome feedback on areas where they’re not meeting customer expectations.  But a week after CBS 3 told them about the specific pricing problems at the Pennsauken Walgreens and others, we found it was still happening.

Just last month the Missouri Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit against Walgreens.  Among other things, the suit alleges that Walgreens engaged in a pattern of advertising lower prices on display tags, but charged higher prices at the checkout.  Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says “This level of consumer deception is inexcusable from a corporation as sophisticated as Walgreens.”

“That’s just terrible,” says ConsumerWorld.org editor Edgar Dworsky, adding “It’s not the consumers obligation to scrutinize every price tag to see that it belongs to this sale and not the prior week’s sale.  That’s the requirement of the stores.”

In fact sometimes there are so many sales stickers it’s hard to tell what’s not on sale!  So what can you do if you find out-dated price tags?  Speak up!  The times that 3 On Your Side inquired about the price displayed on the tag, cashiers agreed to give us the lower sale price, even though the sales had expired.

A Walgreens spokesman told CBS 3 that if a customer believes they were charged incorrectly, the company is happy to resolve it. You should be aware that you need to use a Walgreens Balance Rewards card to get the sale price. We used one in our shopping trips.

By the way, Walgreens has settled pricing lawsuits in two other states as well.

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