A.G. Schneiderman Secures Agreement With Price Chopper To End Deceptive Advertising Practices
A.G. Investigation Reveals Supermarket’s Failure To Disclose Coupon Restrictions Amounted To Millions In Lost Savings To Consumers
Schneiderman: These Deceptive Business Practices Cost Shoppers Hard-Earned Money
ALBANY -- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced an agreement with Price Chopper that will require the grocery store chain to change the way it advertises and promotes its coupons in New York State and pay a $100,000 penalty. The agreement, which is the result of an investigation by the Attorney General's office, came about following complaints about misleading coupons issued by Price Chopper that failed to disclose restrictions. The changes to the grocer's advertising practices will help shoppers make informed decisions about purchases.
“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," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "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. Today’s agreement ensures that consumers will be protected from misleading advertising at these stores in the future."
Attorney General Schneiderman's investigation revealed that Price Chopper advertised that it accepted double coupons at its store locations without disclosing important restrictions that applied to that policy.
After implementing a corporate-wide policy that limited the doubling of coupons “up to 99 cents,” Price Chopper failed to disclose this restriction in its advertisements leading consumers to believe that $1.00 coupons would be doubled. Prior to this corporate policy, Price Chopper’s double coupon policies had previously varied from store to store. A number of stores doubled coupons up to $1.00 whereas others restricted the face value of coupons that could be doubled.
Coupons draw consumers into stores with valuable offers, leading to the purchase of other goods. Restrictions on double coupons, which can make a significant difference in savings, must be clear to consumers who shop on a budget. In just April and May of 2012, Price Chopper shoppers redeemed 34,616,602 coupons valued at $.99 or greater; approximately 8 million of these were valued at $1.00 or more.
Under the terms of the agreement announced today, Price Chopper is required to clearly and conspicuously disclose any face value limits on coupon redemption. In addition to changing advertising practices, Price Chopper agreed to pay $100,000 in civil penalties and costs to the State.
In New York State, Price Chopper has 79 stores statewide, with locations in the Capital Region, Utica, Syracuse, Binghamton, the North Country and the Mid-Hudson Valley.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Judith Malkin, under the supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Martin J. Mack.