Lucky Stores Settles Pricing Case


Lucky Stores, which promotes itself as “the low-price leader” among Southern California supermarkets, has agreed to pay more than $145,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging discrepancies between its posted prices and the charges registered at checkout lanes in its Los Angeles County stores.

Lucky admitted no wrongdoing in settling the suit, filed by Los Angeles City Atty. Jim Hahn. The allegations are based on findings of the Los Angeles County Department of Weights and Measures, which reported overcharges averaging 59 cents on about 9% of the items in 55 Lucky stores between December 1993 and April 1994. The agency also discovered overcharges on 9.2% of the items in 12 Lucky stores during a second probe in April 1995, the suit alleges.

The supermarket chain agreed to pay civil fines and court costs and will contribute $30,000 in gift certificates to county-based food programs for the needy. Lucky, a subsidiary of Salt Lake City-based American Stores Co., also agreed to give more prominent display of its posted policy of giving away inaccurately priced items to the customer involved when such a discrepancy is discovered.


In addition, Lucky agreed to publish in mailed advertising circulars for one year its policy of not charging customers for mispriced items.

The price discrepancies involved Lucky’s promotional “key buys,” items that Lucky advertises and displays as special bargains.

“The ‘key buys’ are a strong marketing point for Lucky,” said Don Kass, head of the city attorney’s consumer protection unit. “It’s important to pursue these cases because consumers are usually not aware when they are being overcharged.”

The agreement is Lucky’s second price-related settlement in the last four years. The chain settled a price discrepancy case in Riverside County for $146,000 in 1992.

Lucky is trying to avoid such legal entanglements by equipping store workers with hand-held scanners that compare bar coding to the price listed on shelves, said Judy Decker, a spokeswoman for the chain.

“If there were errors, they were not intentional,” she said. “These kind of mistakes are sometimes made when the special sale price ends on lots of items at the same time. We’re going to do our best to reinforce price-check training to improve in this area.”


In all, 82 of Lucky’s 247 Southern California stores are in Los Angeles County.