The price is (not necessarily) right
Some of the largest retailers from the US have recently come under fire for allegedly using deceptive pricing tactics to get folks through their doors and – once inside – to the checkout line with the most items

It’s all rosy until you reach the register. 
If you are searching for a summer sale, you should know that some of the country’s largest retailers have recently come under fire for allegedly using deceptive pricing tactics to get folks through their doors and – once inside – to the checkout line with the most items.
Here are five examples:
Hobby Lobby
You’ve heard of “The Song That Never Ends.” Well, this was “The Sale That Never Ends.” That was, however, until the attorney general’s office found out.
Hobby Lobby reached a $220,000 settlement with the New York Attorney General after an investigation revealed that the retailer advertised certain items as sale items for more than 52 consecutive weeks, according to a June 2014 statement from the attorney general.
“Ultimately, a permanent sale is no sale at all,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in the release.
The deceptive advertising allegations against Hobby Lobby violated New York’s General Business Law, which prohibits never-ending sales, the statement said. As part of the settlement, the arts and crafts chain was ordered to contribute $138,600 in supplies to public schools and change its advertising practices over the next 60 days.
Banana Republic
(Banana Republic’s Spring 2014 ad via YouTube)
A California man has accused Banana Republic of “luring” customers – “hundreds of thousands” of customers – via the false advertising of storewide sales in the storefront windows of its shops.
Sajid Veera’s lawsuit, filed April 2014 in Los Angeles, alleges that Banana Republic “deceives customers and cheats its competitors by luring consumers (with) advertisements representing all of the products in the stores are on sale,” when in reality only certain items have been marked down.
Customers only realize the real price at the register, alleges the lawsuit, which claims that Banana Republic violated state laws and seeks to recoup more than $10 million for shoppers in California.
The price on the shelf wasn’t matching up with the price at checkout – a recurring theme at several stores in Missouri with point of sale overcharges ranging from a few cents to more than $15.
That’s what Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster alleged in a civil lawsuit against Walgreens filed last summer and settled last month. Among other false advertising allegations, the suit alleged:
From at least 2012 to the present, Walgreens has consistently and systematically displayed inaccurate sales tags, overcharged customers, failed to remove expired sales tags, failed to consistently ensure the price charged is the same as the price advertised, and used misleading or confusing in store-signs (sic).
The settlement — designed to put a lid on deceptive pricing — in part requires that Walgreens pay for an independent auditor to audit at least 25 percent of its Missouri stores each quarter for the next three years.
“My hope is that the combination of audits, financial penalties, and public shaming will give Walgreens executives a strong incentive to clean up their act,” Koster said in a statement announcing the sweeping settlement.
Jos. A. Bank

(Jos. A. Bank’s “four suits for the price one” commercial via YouTube)
Jos. A. Bank is well known for taking buy-one-get-one to the next level – to the point that the menswear chain became the butt of a Saturday Night Live skit lampooning its buy-one-get-three-free deal.
“I spend a lot of my time cleaning up messes so I need something that’s absorbent and affordable,” says a mom in the sketch. “So what do I reach for? A suit from Jos. A. Bank. With their innovative buy-one-get-three-free pricing, a suit from Jos. A. Bank is effectively cheaper than paper towels.”
But behind the laughs are allegations in several states including New York, Georgia and Florida and in private lawsuits that the clothing retailer misleads customers with its sales practices.
According to one private lawsuit brought against Jos. A. Bank in Ohio last summer:
Jos. A. Bank’s “buy one get one free” suit offers and other similar promotions require consumers to buy one “regular price” suit to get one (or more) free, but the stated “regular price” is a fabrication. It is a price no consumer has actually ever paid for a Jos. A. Bank suit not in connection with some sale or discount. … The Ohio Attorney General has expressly declared such practices “inherently deceptive” …
Jos. A. Bank has been the target of deceptive pricing allegations going back at least 10 years. In 2004, the company agreed to pay $425,000 to settle charges by then-New York State Attorney Eliot Spitzer.
Every consumer loves a bargain but there are rules retailers have to follow when advertising deals. And wasn’t following the rules, a California court ruled in February 2014.
The case, which resulted in a $6.8 million civil penalty for the online company, centered on Overstock’s deceptive advertising of the savings a customer would get on an item as compared to its reference price, or MSRP, that the company displayed near it.
The court found that the references prices were created with the use of formulas that were based on similar products, not the actual product being offered for sale, and that this fact was not adequately disclosed to customers.
Here are six examples of how Overstock ripped off consumers.
The FTC declined to comment for this article.
Learn more here about pricing issues. 


Bhushan asks SIT to probe alleged Rs6,500 crore money laundering by RIL
Prashant Bhushan alleged that RIL, with the help of ICICI Bank, laundered and funnelled back into Reliance companies over Rs6,500 crore through Singapore-based Bio Metrix Marketing 

Aam Admi Party (AAP) leader Prashant Bhushan has complained to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money to investigate and prosecute what he calls 'huge money laundering and siphoning of money involving India's largest business group, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and private lender ICICI Bank.'
Bhushan, in a letter sent to ML Meena, member secretary of the SIT, said, "We all know that there have been two detailed CAG reports that RIL is involved in inflation of capital expenditure, over invoicing and siphoning of money from the KG Basin D6 Block. There is a clear suspicion that such amounts are being laundered and funnelled back into Reliance companies."
Our mails sent to RIL remain unanswered till writing the story. We would incorporate their response as and when we receive it.
Citing a letter reportedly sent by the Indian High Commission in Singapore on 31 August 2011, the AAP leader said, "The High Commission had stated that Rs6,530 crore have come into India from Bio Metrix Marketing Ltd, a one room company in Singapore that does not do any business. It was pointed out that this is a company with no assets, no equity and does not file an income tax returns in Singapore claiming to be a small company. Yet, this huge investment by this company, amounting to Rs6,530 crore is the single biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) into India from Singapore."
"The High Commission had stated that all this money has gone into Reliance group companies in India with the major chunk going to Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd, which is a company 100% owned by Mr Mukesh Ambani personally," Bhushan said in his letter.
According to Bhushan, the Commission had pointed out that one Atul Shanti Kumar Dayal effectively owned this company Bio Metrix. He alleged, "Mr Dayal is nothing but a front for Reliance, since he is a director in 32 Reliance group companies. Now it has come to light that this company Bio Metrix has closed down."
He further stated that "Reliance is laundering its ill-gotten profits from KG Basin through Singapore and depositing the same into accounts of Mr Mukesh Ambani."
Bhushan said, pursuant to his letter and press conference on 27th February, RIL issued a press statement. Quoting media reports, he said that Reliance stated, “These investments in the Indian companies were made by Biometrix out of loans raised from ICICI Bank, Singapore branch.” 
"The ICICI bank did not issue any denial to the press statement issued by Reliance," Bhushan said.
According to the AAP leader and lawyer, the statement issued by RIL raises more question than it answers. He said, "The ICICI Bank had given a loan of thousands of crore to a company with no equity, no assets and no business. What was the collateral or security taken by the ICICI Bank before issuing such a huge loan? What was the due diligence done by the ICICI Bank before issuing this loan? The bank does not give even a small loan to an ordinary person, even for purchasing a car or house without proper security and documentation. But who sanctioned the Rs6,530 crore loan to this company with no business? Has the loan been returned by Bio Metrix to ICICI Bank? Now this company Bio Metrix has closed down. So how will the bank recover this loan?"
Citing international conventions on money laundering, Bhushan said, the duty is put on the financial institutions to observe due diligence and transparency to prevent money laundering. "It is also the duty of the Government to investigate all such transactions. The question therefore arises, was  ICICI bank an accomplice in the money laundering operation carried out by Reliance? The Government of India has just sat over these facts for about three years. The Government has not bothered to investigate this case of money laundering perhaps because powerful entities like Reliance and ICICI Bank are involved," he alleged in the letter.
Bhushan mentioned in the letter that he had sent a letter on 23rd July to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a copy to Justice MB Shah, chairperson and Justice Arijit Pasayat, vice chairperson of the SIT.




3 years ago

BIG fishes do not netted in small once & NARENDRA MODY willnot act on BHUSAN advice.

nilesh prabhu

3 years ago

"Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd, which is a company 100% owned by Mr Mukesh Ambani personally,"

Is not RELIANCE a trademark of RIL which is a public ltd company, then how can mukesh ambani share this trademark.

RIL has to stop mukesh from using RELIANCE trademark


3 years ago

The fathers of the Constitution have committed the Himalayan Blunder by making the President of India merely "Rubber Stamp". The world renown "checks and balances" system of transparency which is the hallmark of truth and justice miserably failed. Ther4e is urgent need for the people of India to repose confidence in "socialism " and rule of law. MISSION HINDUSTAN IS FOR THE NEW REPUBLIC OF HINDUSTAN.

Jai Verma

3 years ago

What BJP govt is doing,in campaign they claimed having remedies for every thing now showing no strength against big business houses


3 years ago

The Government of India should write to Govt of Singapore that unless the facts of this case at Singapore end, certified by the Singapore Govt are sent to Govt of India, all investments from Singapore in India will be stopped. They only understand such langauage.

ch prakash

3 years ago

Except few companies like Infosys, all these companies made tons of money by exploiting the natural sources acquired by paying pittance by ripping the fellow citizens.



In Reply to ch prakash 3 years ago

It is very true. Companies like Infosys are only exceptions in this country. It is very strange that not many people talk about Companies like Reliance who are responsible for many ills in our system.

SAT upholds SEBI's 'unfit' order against Financial Technologies
In an order by majority view, the SAT said that as the time granted to FTIL for divesting its stakes had already expired and the company can take another four weeks to exit its holdings
The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) on Wednesday dismissed Jignesh Shah-promoted Financial Technologies’ (FTIL) plea against market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)'s order declaring the company unfit to own stakes in market infrastructure institutions. SAT said that decisions by financial market regulators have bearing on each other.
The SAT also gave FTIL four weeks to divest its stakes in bourses, including MCX-SX.
SAT's presiding officer JP Devadhar said the moot question was if the orders of one regulator have a bearing on others, and ruled in favour of SEBI saying the trades regulated by the commodity markets regulator Forward Markets Commission (FMC) are similar to those regulated by SEBI.
SEBI had passed its orders following a similar order by FMC after the Rs5,500-crore scam at National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL), 99.99% owned by FTIL, came to light.
Stating that there were differing views within the three-member Bench, Devadhar said the order was being passed as per the majority view. SAT member AS Lamba had the contrarian view and termed SEBI order as “unprofessional”.
Devadhar said order passed by one regulator would have to defacto apply to other regulators and not following this principle would defeat the spirit of regulation.
He said that as the time granted to FTIL for divesting its stakes had already expired, the company can take another four weeks to exit its holdings.
FTIL owns 26% in commodities bourse Multi-Commodity Exchange (MCX) and has a 70% stake in MCX-SX and MCX-SX Clearing Corporation.
Its MCX-SX ownership is 5% through equity and the rest through convertible warrants. At the time of the SEBI order FTIL and MCX held just under 5 per cent stake in the stock exchange MCX-SX.
The troubled company also has stakes in the Delhi Stock Exchange and Vadodara Stock Exchange in addition to a small holding in the NSE.
The SEBI had passed an order on 19th March stating that FTIL was not “fit and proper” to hold any stakes in any of these exchanges. The SEBI order followed a similar one on 17 December 2013 by commodities watchdog FMC against the company and its promoter Jignesh Shah and key officials like Joseph Massey.
FTIL has also challenged the FMC order of December last year in the Bombay High Court, which is yet to conclude the hearing.


We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.

To continue

Sign Up or Sign In


To continue

Sign Up or Sign In



The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)