The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office said Tuesday that PetSmart has agreed to pay $1.46 million for overcharging customers, false advertising and unfair competition.
It's the outcome of a multi-county lawsuit that includes court orders prohibiting the company from engaging in false or misleading advertising and charging an amount greater than the lowest price posted for an item.
The settlement requires PetSmart to implement additional audit and price accuracy procedures in its California stores for three years to ensure compliance with pricing accuracy requirements, including notifying customers of their right to be charged the lowest currently advertised price for any item offered for sale.
"The law in California is clear: businesses must be accurate in charging for goods and services," Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said in a statement. "For customers, it's important to monitor items scanned at a register and scrutinize your receipts to make sure you are not being overcharged."
PetSmart will pay $1.25 million in civil penalties, $100,000 in restitution to support consumer protection enforcement efforts, and $110,000 for investigative costs incurred by various counties.
The DA's office said PetSmart has implemented new policies and procedures to improve pricing accuracy with routine audits, detailed record keeping, and in-store signage to notify customers about the lowest advertised prices.
The lawsuit was filed in Santa Cruz County. In addition to Contra Costa, other plaintiffs include Sonoma, Alameda, Marin, San Diego, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
Deputy DA Bryan Tierney prosecuted the case for Contra Costa County.
County residents who think they have been overcharged by a business can contact the DA's office DA-ReportFraud@contracosta.