Macy’s, JCPenney, Kohl’s and Sears sued for deceptive advertising


Four national retail chains are being sued by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer for allegedly misleading customers with pricing schemes.

Macy’s, JCPenney, Kohl’s and Sears are the defendants in the four separate lawsuits.

4 major retailers sued over sale prices

Read more: These major retailers are closing stores in 2017

According to prosecutors, the department stores falsely claimed that merchandise was sold at a higher “regular” price to make the “sale” price seem like a better deal.

In the industry, the lawsuit states that this technique is referred to as “false reference pricing.”

“Customers have the right to be told the truth about the prices they’re paying–and to know if a bargain is really a bargain,” Feuer said. 

For example, the lawsuit against JCPenney claims that the retailer’s website first advertised a maternity swim top with an “original” price of $46 and a “sale” price of $31.99.

But prosecutors said the item was never sold online for any more than $31.99.

Read more: These Macy’s locations are closing

The Los Angeles Times reports that retailers in California are banned from advertising a higher original price unless the product was for sale at that price within three months of the ad.


Retailers can also advertise the former price if the ad clearly states the date that it was in effect.

According to the Los Angeles Times, none of the four retailers chose to comment on the pending litigation. The lawsuits seek injunctions to prohibit the alleged practices, plus civil penalties.

How to get the lowest price possible

Bottom line: “Clark Smart” shoppers know that you shouldn’t pay much attention to the original price because retailers are constantly running sales, and some of those sales are better than others.  

To get the best deal, use free smartphone apps (or do a Google search) to compare prices while you shop. 

More retail coverage:

Online shopping tip: Use one card

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