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Retail Outlets Caught Overcharging

By Lookout Staff

Dec. 8 -- Nine Santa Monica retailers were caught overcharging customers anywhere from $2 to more than $100 during a sting this summer by County inspectors, the City Attorney's office announced Monday.

The store nabbed overcharging the most during the random inspection was Diesel, which overcharged three of four items for a total of $101.10. Store representatives have blamed the overcharges on a new computer system.

Other stores caught overcharging were Urban Outfitters (one of 10 items for a total overcharge of $10), Gap (one of 10 items for a total of $7.50), Sears (two of 15 items for $8.70) and Bebe (one of five items for $5.70). Like Diesel, all but Sears are on the popular Third Street Promenade.

Overcharging less than $5 were Carlton Cards ($3.03) in Santa Monica Place, Walgreens ($2.47), Barnes & Noble on the Promenade ($2.30) and Coffee Bean ($2) on Montana Avenue.

The stores face misdemeanor charges filed by Santa Monica City Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit for charging more than the posted price. Each violation carries a maximum penalty of $3,300.

If found guilty, each store also must post a notice of violation in its window for 60 days.

"These cases are a sobering reminder that consumers need to be always alert about prices," said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky. "At this time of year especially, people need to check those receipts carefully. We find that sale items tend to have the most problems with overcharging."

The nine stores will face arraignment in Santa Monica Municipal Court on December 10 and 11.
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