Wal-Mart to pay $2-million state penalty

Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $2.1 million for not complying with a judgment against the chain for overcharging customers in California, the attorney general’s office said.

The 2008 judgment had directed the retailer to fix pricing errors discovered during a government investigation into its California stores.

The 2005 investigation found that 164 Wal-Mart stores in the state had scanned some items at higher prices than advertised on shelves and signs. Under the judgment, customers who are overcharged should have received $3 off an item’s lowest advertised price, or receive products that cost under $3 for free.

But a subsequent investigation in 2010 to monitor Wal-Mart’s compliance found continued pricing errors at its stores, the attorney general’s office said.

In addition to the penalty, Wal-Mart will extend the $3-off program to November 2013 and put large signs describing the policy at checkout stands in its 180 California stores. The retailer will also tap an employee at every store in the state to ensure pricing accuracy and report any discrepancies to its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters.

“Consumers should feel confident that the price on the shelf will be the same price they are charged at the cash register,” Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said in a statement.

Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo said the retailer would comply.