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Ventura County

Vons Pleads No Contest to Overcharging Customers

March 05, 2003|Tracy Wilson | Times Staff Writer

The Vons supermarket chain agreed Tuesday to pay nearly $20,000 in fines after pleading no contest to charges it overcharged customers for groceries -- including fruit, vegetables, coffee and candy -- at stores across Ventura County.

Prosecutors accused Vons Companies Inc. of posting one price for items on the shelf and then charging a higher price at the cash register.

The district attorney filed 13 separate complaints against the company after inspectors with the county Department of Weights and Measures conducted routine test purchases over a two-month period and were overcharged for various items, including coffee, jelly beans, onions, grapefruit, pears, peas and pasta salad.

The misdemeanor and infraction counts stemmed from price-scanner violations, short-weight products and false advertising. The test purchases occurred in December and January at Vons stores in Ventura, Oxnard, Moorpark, Camarillo, Fillmore, Thousand Oaks, Port Hueneme and Simi Valley.

"It's important for consumers because even if it is only a penny at the cash register, that adds up to millions of dollars for a supermarket," Deputy Dist. Atty. Karen Wold said. "And that is unacceptable."

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