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Ralphs Avoids Trial, Gets Probation, Fines For Overcharging Customers

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(credit: File/AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

(credit: File/AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Superior Court judge has placed Ralphs Grocery Co. on three years probation and ordered the supermarket chain to pay over $67,000 for overcharging customers for prepackaged and weighed products at a South Los Angeles store.

Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson says some of the violations stemmed from ice on prepackaged fish that increased the weight — and thus the cost — of the product.

Rubinson advised the store to “rinse the ice off the fish” to avoid future problems.

The grocery chain pleaded no contest last month to 62 charges, including 19 counts of mislabeling; 18 counts of selling items that weigh less than they are supposed to; 15 counts of false advertising; and 10 counts of offering items for sale that weigh less than they are supposed to, according to Frank Mateljan of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.

The plea — which involved both misdemeanor charges and infractions — came shortly before the case was scheduled to go to trial.

KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports Ralphs attorneys say they believe they have a very low error rate and a good system.

In a statement, a Ralphs spokeswoman said company representatives had “spent countless hours working with the City Attorney’s Office to try to reach a settlement agreement that was acceptable to both our customers and their office.”

Kendra Doyel, Ralphs’ group vice president of marketing, said the company believes the charges involved “isolated events,” but has “redoubled all of our efforts to ensure accuracy.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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