Fresh & Easy under fire for overcharging

January 26, 2013

Fresh & EasyIf you discover the Fresh & Easy grocery store in San Luis Obispo charges more for an item than advertised, you could just get the product for free. [NBC]

A San Diego County Judge ordered the owner of Fresh & Easy grocery stores to pay more than $800,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming the chain charged higher prices than were posted on store shelves or advertised in circulars

In addition, the chain owned by British supermarket giant Tesco, will also have to institute a three-year-long “Get It Free” program that will give shoppers $3 back on items if they’re overcharged. The stores will have to give away for free the item if it is advertised at less than $3 when overcharging occurs.

In December, Tesco announced that because its stores are failing in the U.S. market they are reviewing options such as selling or closing the chain.

The chain is also under fire in Europe for issues with meat products in several counties. Last week, an Irish food safety watchdog said that it had discovered traces of horse and pig meat in burger products sold by some of Tesco’s supermarkets, including a burger sold by global retailer Tesco that authorities said was made of roughly 30 percent horse. A lone meat processor in Ireland is being blamed for the mixed meat burgers.


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If a grocery store is using scanners for their checkout stands, it is beyond foolish if they do not put enough resources into making sure their system is accurate. In a large store that usually requires at least one forty hour clerk doing nothing but data maintenance, checking the shelf sticker against what the computer is charging. The Department of Weights and Measures takes the role of assuring accuracy of these types of systems very seriously to protect consumers against being charged the wrong price.

Thirty years ago, everything except fresh produce was marked with a price sticker or an inked stamp on the package, and that was the price the clerk entered in the register. With scanners in place there is no “need” to mark each item because the computer has been programmed with the price; how up-to-date that information is is where stores like Fresh ‘n Easy can get into trouble. Grocery is very competitive and the industry norm is a very small margin; with fixed costs like energy and cost-of-goods, the only real variable that owners and managers can control to any degree is the cost of labor. Fresh ‘n Easy took that to a new level by having customers ring themselves up only, with just a few clerks running the whole store; but it seems like the possibly scrimped too much on the labor to maintain their scanner system.

If you ever want to check to see if a grocery store is charging you the correct prices, you should take a marker pen with you when you shop and physically write the price of each packaged item directly on the package (a grease pencil works really well). Once you have had your order scanned, you can then check the receipt against the items you marked to see if everything was charged at the price that was listed on the shelf. I encourage everyone to do this once and awhile, no matter where you shop, as long as they are using scanners. If you find mistakes, take your receipt and the items you marked with you to the store and speak to a manager; they want to fix the problem before Weights and Measures catches them, and sometimes you could get an item or two free as a payment for your troubles. Be aware.

Were they selling GMO products?

If it is a corn or soy product and it is not marked “GMO Free”, it probably is GMO.

It doesn’t matter, they’re going bankrupt anyway. Fresh & Easy is not Walmark and this isn’t the first time, I’ve notice New Frontiers doing the samething on New Times, why isn’t there a story? Because their an advertiser and nobody wants to lose an advertiser.

Oh and Cal Coast News reads all my comments.

We read all the comments, all of them.

/tin foil hat.

And the City of San Luis Obispo waived all types of planning and building fees for this project because it was such a financial windfall for the community – great job carter, asbaugh, marx, litchig, dietrick and etc. Just brilliant.

The city of SLO regularly does this for many development projects. They practically gave the farm away to the Garden St Terraces project, giving them a city parking lot for a fraction of its value and multi-million dollar loans. I don’t think you can point to a stores in another county being accused of overcharging as evidence at our local store is useless and should not have been built.

At least this project was for something beneficial to the community – a market, rather than more high end commercial space that won’t get rented and a fancy luxury hotel and condos.

Hurting for money

Maybe they can get a “bailout” from the feds.

I thought I heard these stores were closing up shop in California.

Some of the ones in SanDiego are gone…they didn’t go over

too well.

Sounds like it isn’t EASY to be FRESH. I know bad, sorry couldn’t resist.