Stephen Gibbons, Assistant District Attorney

Robin B. Wakshull, Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
(408) 792-2584

For release on October 11, 2005


Today, Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy and Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee resolved a civil action against West Marine Products, Inc., a retail and wholesale seller of marine equipment and products. The civil complaint and stipulated final judgment were filed in Santa Cruz County Superior Court on October 11, 2005. Without admitting wrongdoing or liability, West Marine Products consented to entry of a judgment that includes injunctive provisions and the payment of $389,748.58 in civil penalties, costs and restitution.

The complaint alleges that West Marine’s retail stores violated Business and Professions Code section 12024.2(2) by charging an amount greater than the lowest price advertised or posted for a product. The case was initiated and investigated by inspectors from the counties’ Weights and Measures Departments and the California Division of Measurement Standards. The problems were discovered during scanner inspections in numerous counties when a price in the scanning system did not match a price that was posted on shelf tags or product labels. Consumers saw one price posted on the shelf but were charged a different price at the checkout register. Some of the errors resulted in undercharges but more resulted in overcharges.

West Marine cooperated with inspectors and the District Attorneys’ Offices during the investigation and settlement of the lawsuit. The company initiated new procedures to more closely monitor and improve pricing accuracy. It also instituted a price guarantee program to ensure the consumer pays the lowest price advertised. The terms of the price guarantee will be posted at each check-out stand. It provides that if the final price charged for an item is higher than posted price, the consumer will receive $5.00 off the lowest price if the lowest price is greater than $5.00 and will receive the item free if the lowest price is $5.00 or less.

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