Complaint of the Week: Safeway Overcharging Customers

Originally reported by CBS 5 in San Francisco, Safeway Inc., the second-largest supermarket chain in North America, is overcharging, customers say. These complaints involve Safeway and Vons (a division of Safeway) stores across California, the state with the highest concentration of Safeway Inc. stores in the country.

In 2003 and 2008, the State of California sued the company for overcharging. As a result, Safeway Inc. stores are supposed to compensate affected customers. Any item under $5 that scans at the register for more than the lowest advertised price is free. For items over $5, customers are given a $5 Safeway gift card.

CBS 5 in San Francisco went undercover, visiting five Safeway stores in three California counties. They were overcharged five times with none of the stores offering to give the item for free and two stores refusing after being asked.

In addition to the overcharging, CBS reported that many stores did not have signs stating the refund policy in conspicuous locations, as demanded by a court order. According to the news outlet, multiple clerks at the Safeway stores did not know the locations of the signs.

In response to the CBS report, Safeway apologized for overcharging, but said the company did “respectfully disagree” that signs were not in conspicuous locations.

“We place our pricing accuracy policy statement with other legally mandated and otherwise required customer notices in each check stand at a place where customers pause and notice,” Safeway said.

After asking for it, Safeway gave CBS its telephone helpline. When the news outlet called, a customer service representative said he had never heard of the court order regarding the signs.

Have you been affected by Safeway overcharging? Please feel free to share your story in the comments.