In the past we have been taken to task for not posting about bad behavior at Walmart's competitors. Typically the reason is simply: we write about Walmart, if you want to write about how bad the competitors are, get your own blog. But in New Jersey, we can anger three oxen with one gore. From New Jersey's Attorney General:
Attorney General Anne Milgram today announced that her office and the Division of Consumer Affairs have filed suit against Drug Fair, Target and Wal-Mart for allegedly selling infant formula and non-prescription drugs beyond the expiration date marked on these items and also for selling back-to-school merchandise that did not match the posted prices. All three companies face enhanced civil penalties because each violated terms of Consent Orders previously reached with the state for the alleged sale of expired infant formula and non-prescription drugs. Each company paid civil penalties and agreed not to offer those out-of-date products for sale, under terms of the Consent Orders. “These companies violated their previous settlements with the state and violated the trust of consumers once again,” Attorney General Anne Milgram said. “I have no tolerance for repeat violators and neither should consumers.”
That was what the attorney general said. Here's how it played in Washington, New Jersey's, The Express-Times:
Local Wal-Mart sold expired baby formula, medication, N.J. attorney general alleges. State authorities allege the Wal-Mart in Pohatcong Township and other stores in New Jersey are selling expired baby formula and nonprescription medications.
The paper does mention Target and Drug Fair in the second paragraph. But back to the AG.
The three lawsuits against Drug Fair, Wal-Mart and Target are the latest in a series of actions taken by the Attorney General and Consumer Affairs against retailers who have allegedly overcharged consumers and sold out-of-date infant formula and non-prescription drugs. Rite Aid this June agreed to pay $475,000 to settle similar allegations against it and Duane Reade agreed to pay $200,000 in November 2007. Consumer Affairs investigators also found that products advertised in store flyers, including ‘back-to-school’ items such as binders, calculators and printers, were not in stock. Consumers Affairs investigators, including Office of Weights and Measures inspectors who have regulation of scanning devices, conducted unannounced store inspections in late August. “Consumers are being squeezed in this era of $4 a gallon gasoline and $4 a gallon milk. Consumers who based their back-to-school shopping on advertisements and then found that the items either weren’t in stock, or scanned at a higher than listed price, were defrauded,” said David Szuchman, Consumer Affairs Director. The state’s Complaints, filed in State Superior Court in Hudson and Union counties, allege that Drug Fair, Target and Wal-Mart each violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by offering for sale expired merchandise; engaging in unconscionable commercial practices; and making false promises and misrepresentations. Each company also allegedly violated the state’s Weights and Measures Act by inaccurate price scanning. Target and Wal-Mart also allegedly violated the Consumer Fraud Act by failing to display selling prices. Target also committed a violation by failing to post its rain check policy. Drug Fair, Target and Wal-Mart also allegedly violated the state’s Advertising Regulations by not having sufficient quantities of items in stock. Target and Wal-Mart also allegedly violated the state’s Bicycle Safety Act by not having proper notice of New Jersey’s bike helmet law posted for consumers. Under the enhanced violations being sought by the state, each violation of the prior Consent Orders carry a civil penalty of up to $20,000. Deputy Attorneys General Jah-Juin Ho, Nicholas Kant and Jeffrey Koziar are representing the state in these cases.
Clearly, the most egregious allegation would be selling expired baby formula. While the AG provides a list of violations, she lumps the baby formula in with non-prescription medications (expired aspirin). At a minimum, that's a sloppy way to count and means that there is no way to tell if only one, two or all three chains sold expired baby formula. Drug Mart had 32 violations in this category, followed by Target with 10 and Walmart with seven. Totaling the first three categories, Drug Fair had 100 violations; Target, 43 and Walmart 30. Looks like an AG is up for re-election to me. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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