J. W. Robinson's on Thursday agreed to pay $69,000 to settle a consumer protection lawsuit claiming that the Southern California department store chain misled consumers about the contents of its down pillows.
The announcement came two days after a sister company, May Co., paid $67,400 to settle a similar suit and an additional $295,000 in connection with a false advertising case. Both Robinson's and May Co. are units of May Department Stores of St. Louis.
The Robinson's suit, filed jointly by the district attorney's offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento counties, claimed that the chain's newspaper ads and sales staff led consumers to believe that its down-filled pillows contained 100% down. In fact, the suit charged that the pillows were filled with 75% or more down, but not 100%. As part of the probe, investigators posed as customers and visited eight Robinson's stores in September and August of 1986.
Robinson's, which did not admit to any wrongdoing, also consented to a five-year agreement prohibiting the chain from making false statements about the quantity of down in its pillows or other products. The chain will also train its sales staff regarding the contents of down products.
The $69,000 settlement includes civil penalties and costs, according to the district attorneys. The settlement, however, does not require Robinson's to make restitution to individual customers who were led to believe they had purchased 100% down-filled pillows. "It's not practical," said Martin Herscovitz, a Los Angeles deputy district attorney.
Robinson's executives did not return calls seeking comment.
The suit is part of an ongoing investigation led by the Sacramento district attorney's office into the misleading labeling and advertising of down products. About $1 million in fines has been netted from retailers in the state.