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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.

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Comments

Visduh Jan. 22, 2013 @ 12:52 p.m.

Sounds like Sprouts, too. I've lost track of how many times they have tried to charge more than the sign, shelf tag, meat/fish display tag shows. If you go there, beware, and verify all the prices charged.

Fresh and Easy has a concept that might work in an area where many people are on foot, and want to stop in and get something that is ready to cook upon arriving at home. San, Francisco, say. But this business of failing to reflect the advertised or posted price at the register is inexcusable. The DA did the right thing, and made it cost them more than they ever gained by the overcharges.

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Susan Luzzaro Jan. 22, 2013 @ 4:58 p.m.

Visduh, when Fresh & Easy came to Third Avenue in Chula Vista I hoped that it would bring business and employment. I'm not sure what the other stores are like but this one is for the most part self-checkout.

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 22, 2013 @ 8:06 p.m.

They are ALL self check out, that s their business plan and what makes them different- and that is why I love them, I NEVER wait to be checked out NEVER. There is always an open register.

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tomjohnston Jan. 23, 2013 @ 7:42 a.m.

I haven't been in a fresh and easy in so cal for at least a year, probably longer. How are they handling alcohol sales since AB 183 went into affect last year?

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Visduh Jan. 22, 2013 @ 9:30 p.m.

I didn't make myself clear. The comments in the first paragraph pertained to Sprouts.

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Javajoe25 Jan. 22, 2013 @ 6:36 p.m.

Ralph's has pulled this stunt too. I've caught them several times and even though they always correct it when I point it out, I have to wonder how many people are oblivious to it and just go through and pay up.

Was at a new Von's the other day and picked up an item that had a "50% off" sticker on it. When I checked out there was no 50% off, so I called a manager and was told they have to enter a special code to trigger the discount. So, what's that-- a "50% off when you get a manager to enter the code" discount? Please. I just hope the DA's office gets on this and stays on it. This has happened too often and for too long.

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