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Customer sues Wal-Mart over 2 cents

The Pittsburgh-area consumer advocate made a successful case against the retail behemoth.

By Karen Datko Oct 3, 2011 5:32PM

Mary Bach bought a package of Banquet Brown 'N Serve sausage labeled 98 cents at the freezer case. But it rang up for 2 cents more. When she pointed out the discrepancy, the cashier gave her the lower price.

 

Six days later, it happened again. This time, Bach took Wal-Mart to court -- and won. Post continues after video.

"Murrysville District Judge Charles Conway sided with Bach in her civil lawsuit alleging unfair trade practices. He awarded Bach $100 in damages, plus about $80 in court costs," the Tribune-Review reported.

 

The retail behemoth argued that Banquet had just changed the package and the UPC, so the old ones were ringing up for 98 cents and the new packages cost a buck. Both the old and new were still being sold by the store.

 

Wal-Mart also argued that Bach, a consumer advocate, was just looking for another excuse to sue the Delmont, Pa., store (where, we suspect, employees cringe when she walks through the door). She's sued that Pittsburgh area store four times before over similar allegations. (You can read about some of her previous legal battles here, here and here. She has also successfully sued Kmart and other retailers, but lost a case over how Wal-Mart charges sales tax on items discounted with a coupon.)

 

Bach says it's the principle: Wal-Mart should make sure it doesn't charge more than the advertised price. (The $100 award plus court costs is the minimum allowed under Pennsylvania law for such cases.)

 

To some, Bach is a hero. Posted reader "Kevin Hooper" at The Huffington Post:

Do you people not realize how much overcharging a few cents per transaction costs us? Take a behemoth like Wal-Mart, even if they only overcharge 10% of the time it would mean tens of millions in overpayment.

Said a reader at WeUseCoupons.com, "Well, good for her. I don't have the time for it nor the inclination but she has picked up the gauntlet for the little person and is waving it at Walmart."

 

Some think her efforts are misguided at best. "What a waste of time," commented "Dan Doyle" at HuffPost. "Maybe she should sue the government for wasting her money instead and make a significant point."

 

Wrote "disgusted!" at lehighvalleylive.com: "Really? With everything that's going on in the world she's whining over 2 freaking cents!"

 

Still, there's something everyone should learn from this: Always check your receipt and do it before you leave the store. The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs has other tips:

  • Pay attention to the cash register display to be sure you are charged the correct price.
  • Immediately point out overcharges to the cashier.
  • Ask about the store's policy on overcharges. If you are overcharged, some stores will give you the item free or offer a discount.

Note: Receipt checks by store employees as you head to the door are also strictly voluntary on your part unless it's included in a membership agreement, like the one at Costco, MSN Money's Liz Weston has said.

 

More on MSN.com:

575Comments
Oct 4, 2011 12:17PM
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You are all missing the point! This lady has nothing better to do than tie up the court system with frivolous lawsuits! She will now cause the price of items to increase in the store to make up costs for her lawsuit and defending itself over other ridiculous lawsuits.

A store that sells as many products as Walmart is bound to make price mistakes. Remember, there are human workers responsible for the layouts and changing prices in the store. What it boils down to is free enterprise. If she doesn't like the fact that Walmart makes mistakes...go somewhere else! No one is forcing her to shop there.

I truly hope someone sues her the next time she makes a mistake at her job. If (And that is a BIG IF) she has one. I’m upset with her and equally upset with the kooky judge that decided in her favor. Obviously, a strong understanding of consumer law is not his bag. A computer glitch was the mistake and she never had to pay for the incorrect price of the product.

I would suggest everyone in the Murrysville area to vote Judge Charles Conway out of office.

Oct 4, 2011 6:47AM
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just another trash pile trying to make a living from sueing. Its out of hand and soon the courts will get a belly full of this kind of garbage and start fast laneing the cases which will allow for REAL cases that warrant a trial to slip through the cracks. WOW just wow! If I were the judge I would have reached in my pocket and pulled out 2 cent, handed it to her and told her to get out of my court room with that crap.
Oct 4, 2011 12:31PM
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  It did NOT cost Wal-Mart $180 to defend themselves in this lawsuit. It actuallly cost much, much more. Thousands in lawyers fees, lost work time from anyone who was called to testify for the company, to name two points. Who will end up paying for that? That's right, we, the consumers.

  Here's my two cents worth....Mary can stick those two pennies up her whiny nose.

Oct 4, 2011 11:53AM
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What a total waste of our courts time for 2 freakin cents.  Who cares if they made the same mistake, she caught it and only had to point it out again.  Just another examply of the pussification of America and the dolts that support it.
Oct 4, 2011 12:43PM
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ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!! QUIT TYING UP OUR COURT SYSTEM with frivolous lawsuits. Who cares if it is a "to make a point" law suit."  This lady WASTED the courts, judges, court reporters and now the media's time. SHAME ON YOU LADY!
Oct 4, 2011 6:22AM
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I can't believe that people are supporting WalMart. How many times has WalMart screwed everyone, let alone their employees. They are bigger than most countries in the world and they still treat their customers like crap. Ever try and find someone to help you?  WalMart is the most evil company that world has ever known. If you shop there you are supporting the copmpany that is destroying Americas economy and country.
Oct 4, 2011 6:13AM
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This woman is a piece of ferrel crap.  Thi is exactly why the court system is tied up the way it is and why business is so expensive to operate. 

Disgusting!

Oct 4, 2011 1:11PM
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I disagree 100%, I think this lady is taking this way to far and has nothing better to do with her time and effort then try to make a quick buck. I think she is overly concerned with the concept of being "screwed over" and is taking it to an extreme. A law suit isn't necessary for something this small. People like this are the cause %90 of the customer service issues that companies have to deal with. Not to mention she probably spent more on court cost's and lawyer fees then she made, and want's to claim its the principle to justify her actions.  I have shopped in Wal-Marts all over the country and have never had this issue. 
Oct 4, 2011 12:45PM
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Another frivolous waste of time and effort on this morons part, as well as the courts.  Here's an idea lady.....SHOP SOMEPLACE ELSE!!!!!
Oct 4, 2011 8:25AM
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The point here is that WALMART IS STEALING from us.  If everyone who walks into walmarts across the world and leaves me even just one cent today, then by tomorrow, I'm a rich man.  Walmart may just take 2 cents, and you all think its no big deal, but if they are doing tha to everyone, then they are stealing ALOT of money.
Oct 4, 2011 5:13AM
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Your suing giant retail over 2 pennies??? Something tells me you are no better than those crooked thief that likes to go around retail stores switching labels on the shelf and then have the audacity to argue at the register cuase it rang up a different price tag.  I've work for retail stores in the past and I know that 90% of the time you'll have some idiots come into the stores and will purposely try switching the shelf label or putting items in the wrong spot hence creating a price discrepancy for another customer that comes along and see that specific item in the wrong home not knowing that the upc doesn't match that price.  So it's not always the retail store's fault  for the pricing errors. Walmart has like the best deals ever and not only that they'll price match any other retailers thereby saving me even more on gas of having to drive all over town trying to get a better deal.  If that women thinks a dollar is way too expensive even if it says 98 cent on the shelf. than by all means go shop somewhere else where they'll charge her a hell of a lot more for that same product. Not to mention that you're shopping at one of the busiest retailors in the world. When you have a busy days like that during business hour you tend to get sidetrack on some of your product and may have forgotten to change or fix the shelf label price. That happens a lot during on business hours.  As a customer you just have to use common sense and view both labels first. If you see something that seems to be too good to be true,then try to make sure that  the upc of the product matches the one on the shelf before you take it. 

Oct 4, 2011 11:24AM
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I'll say it again; THIS IS WHAT THIS WOMAN DOES FOR A LIVING.  Do a Bing or Google search on her.  She is a SELF APPOINTED, independent "consumer advocate", but she keep all the money she wins in "our name" for herself.

 

Who pays for her "winning" against the likes of big, greedy?, evil? Wal-Mart over $.02 on one item?  That's right!! YOU AND ME.  It isn't just the $180 the idiot judge awarded her, it is also all the legal costs, lawyers, time, documents, employee time to testify, etc. Wal-Mart had to pay defending itself.  Did Wal-Mart change the price to the correct one when she brought it up at the register?  Yes.  SO, she did pay $.98 for her item.  So she was "injured" how??  Oh, that's right. Don't confuse the liberals with facts, it only makes the angry.

Oct 4, 2011 4:41AM
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She has sued the same store 5 times, and sued other local stores. If she doesn't like shopping somewhere because she knows they are going to rip her off then she should not be allowed to shop there anymore. If I know one of the bars in town is charging me an extra 2 cents each time they ring my beer up I am simply going to patron a different establishment.

If I were walmart I would settle her next case ( which I can predict is coming soon) with a do not return agreement. Give her $10,000, and save your company the future headaches. Leak the story to the news, and make her the ridicule of her local town.

I bet walmart often overcharges lots of customers, but I have never been denied a price change after I have reviewed my receipt. People causeing a comotion and cutting into a companies profits with frivolous law suits, schemes to get products for free, and stealing, cost every other consumer in price markups.

Oct 4, 2011 4:12PM
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Seriously? She's going to sue a company over .02? I can understand the whole "standing up for the little people" bit but come on! It's 2 cents! She's probably the type of person that is always looking for something to complain about every time she sets foot inside a store. I can't stand people like that. Who the frick cares?! Stop worrying about all the little things and go out and enjoy your life!
Oct 4, 2011 2:10PM
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I have one thing to say...is this woman nuts or what?!?!  I can't believe that anyone could defend such frivolous lawsuits.  Complain to store management -- yes.  Request reduction in your price to the posted price -- yes.  But sue???  You've got to be kidding!  There, ladies and gentlemen, is the perfect example of what is wrong with our system and our "new" way of thinking.  Just nuts!!!
Oct 4, 2011 1:00PM
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If the person at the register gave the lady her two cents when the error was pointed out, how was she damaged?  This is nothing but harassment by a self-appointed "protector".  I am sure she is feeling quite full of herself today after seeing her name on the news.  Good for her.  
Oct 4, 2011 7:37AM
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I applaud this lady for her actions.  Walmart is notorious for displaying a shelf price and having it ring up higher at the register.  I have at least one item ring up for more than the shelf price almost everytime I shop there...  the highest overring being $1.50!  Times that by the number of sales in just one day and I would assume it comes out to a figure that is not bad for a days work.  Unfortunately, most people don't catch these overcharges and Walmart (as well as many other stores) comes out the winner.  The best advice I can give is for the consumer to be aware of what they are buying and what the shelf price states.  It is not frivolous to point out an overcharge when it occurs...  unless, of course, one has more money than they know what to do with.
Oct 4, 2011 1:18PM
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Wal-Mart ought to ban that lady from ever coming in Wal-mart again.
Oct 3, 2011 6:37PM
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when are the frivolous law suits going to stop now how much did this cost wal-mart which in turn cost the consumers anyway all for a mistake which would have been corrected and how many more stores will it be she has done k mart and target but I  don't see her going to Macys or any other high end store.  she needs to get a life and we need a law to stop these petty frivolous law suits.
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