Ralphs Avoids Trial, Gets Probation, Fines For Overcharging Customers

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

  • SUE

    Ralphs Grocery Co continues to prove themselves to be a dishonest company, as this is not the first time they have overcharged their customers. And let’s not forget during the supermarket strike Ralphs rehired locked out employees – using false names and social security numbers. Ralphs corporate officers should read the books that are on their “Character Counts” displays!!!

  • Mike

    To Sue,
    Spoken like a true CA fruit/nut who never shops at Ralphs, has never worked in a grocery store and has no common sense.
    “Rubinson advised the store to “rinse the ice off the fish” to avoid future problems.”
    Does it occur to you that employee weighing the pre-packaged seafood may have found it easier to just weigh and label the portions as they came out of the box than to rinse the package off? Does it ever occur to you that once the inspector found one package, they might have weighed all the packages in the counter that day?
    When I buy fish and there is water in the sealed package, do I really think the package was weighed prior to the water thawing from the fish? Get real and Grow up.
    Try to focus on the fools you have in your statehouse that are incompetent in all areas. Don’t look to the other states to bail you out.
    A reader from VA.

  • SUE

    Dishonest corporation.

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