Walmart faces lawsuit over deceptive pricing after customer said he was overcharged

A man said he paid 7% more for his entire order than what shelf prices showed.
Posted at 9:40 AM, Jul 09, 2024

A federal appeals court is allowing a potential class-action lawsuit to move forward after a customer alleged that Walmart is engaging in deceptive pricing.

According to the suit filed by Yoram Khan, Walmart's shelf pricing "does not always reflect the price it charges consumers at the point of sale, causing consumers to pay higher prices at checkout." The suit claims that Khan noticed on his receipt that six of the 15 items he purchased at an Illinois Walmart in 2022 were more expensive than the price listed on the shelf.

Khan said this made his overall purchase 7% higher than he was expecting to pay.

The lawsuit said that Khan then hired attorneys to look into the higher costs, and found that Walmart was charging more than advertised at other stores in Illinois and in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.

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A lower court had dismissed the suit, claiming that once customers received their receipt, they would no longer be "deceived" by the pricing.

"We understand the court’s point but respectfully disagree with the conclusion, especially when we focus on reasonable consumer behavior under the totality of the circumstances," wrote Circuit Judge David Hamilton.

Hamilton wrote that "providing a receipt is insufficient to dispel the deception created by Walmart’s inaccurate shelf prices." He added, "Walmart’s and the district court’s reasoning would require unreasonable efforts by consumers to protect themselves from the deception."

"Some consumers lack smartphones to photograph the shelf prices as they shop, requiring them to write down or remember dozens of distinct shelf prices," Hamilton said. "Others lack the time to retrace their steps through the store, comparing their receipts against all the shelf prices. Even if shoppers somehow retain records of each shelf price, at checkout, many are trying to corral young children, others are skimming the tabloid headlines displayed to entice them, and still others are lending a hand to the baggers or pulling out their wallets. Shoppers can easily miss the split-second display of a price or two at checkout. Even if consumers do notice a price discrepancy on a point-of-sale display or on a receipt, they must then raise the issue to the store’s attention to resolve it."

By allowing the suit to move forward, others can file claims against Walmart and seek damages.

Walmart issued a statement in response to the lawsuit.

"We’ll always work to provide our customers everyday low prices they can count on. We are confident in the evidence and look forward to arguing our case," the company said.