Ed Bedford 1:23 p.m., May 23
More bad news for Fresh & Easy stores
San Diego superior court imposes penalty on chain
San Diego County District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, announced in a January 22 press release that a superior court judge has imposed a penalty of $833,136 on Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Inc.
According to the release, "Prosecutors filed a civil complaint alleging that the owners of Fresh & Easy stores posted prices and advertisements in stores of the prices that would be charged for items and then charged more than those prices at the time of checkout. In addition, prosecutors alleged that meat and seafood packages in its meat department were marked at higher price per pound than the shelf prices indicated."
As part of the penalty for the next three years shoppers in California Fresh & Easy stores "will be entitled to get $3 off the lowest advertised price of an item when they are overcharged at the register. If the lowest advertised price for the item is $3 or less, then the customer will receive it for free."
But will Fresh & Easy stores be around for the next three years? In December, a Los Angeles Time's article opened with these words: "Five years after the company landed in California and opened 200 stores across the West, Tesco [the British-owned parent company of Fresh & Easy] said it is preparing to sell its struggling Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain and retreat from the U.S. altogether."
The Times article reported that the chain had never made a profit and that in the first half of 2012 lost about $115 million.
There are 17 Fresh & Easy stores in San Diego County--two of them are in Chula Vista.