February 27, 2013

Price Chopper fined for misleading advertising

TROY — Price Chopper has agreed to begin advertising its coupons accurately and will pay a $100,000 fine for having failed to do so.

The supermarket chain, which operates 79 locations statewide, was investigated by the office of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman after complaints from consumers who uncovered undisclosed restrictions on their coupons when they were attempting to use of them.

The investigation found the Price Chopper corporation was advertising that it would double coupons at all of its locations; however, the company had restricted the doubling to 99 cents without disclosing the change. 

Consumers were led to believe that $1 coupons could be doubled when, in fact, they could not, per corporate policy, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Prior to the policy, Price Chopper’s double-coupon policies had varied from store to store.

The company actively seeks to bring shoppers to their stores through coupons that allow them to save on groceries. 

In April and May 2012, Price Chopper shoppers redeemed $34,616,602 in coupons valued at 99 cents or more; approximately 8 million of those were for a dollar or more.

“In the current economy, it is more important than ever that consumers be presented with clear information about the terms and conditions of coupons and other sale offers,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Price Chopper used deceptive business practices to mislead price-conscious consumers and extract hard-earned money from them by hindering their ability to shop competitively and save on groceries.”

Under the agreement, Price Chopper will have to “clearly and conspicuously disclose any face value limits on coupon redemption,” according to the release, in addition to $100,000 in civil penalties and costs to the state.

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