Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is suing Walgreen Co., accusing the nation's largest pharmacy chain of overcharging customers and using deceptive advertising.
Koster filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Kansas City and announced the "disturbing" details at a news conference in St. Louis.
A spokesman for Walgreen Co. said they disagree with Koster's assertions.
Koster said workers in his office made undercover visits to stores in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Jefferson City and Osage Beach in June and July.
He says investigators found the stores often charged more at checkout than displays indicated. He says that of 205 products purchased, 43 had price discrepancies, ranging from a few cents to $15.
"There were overcharges and deceptive pricing at nearly every store we visited," Koster said, adding the overcharges can bring extra hundreds of thousands of dollars to Walgreens.
Investigators visited eight stores including the Walgreens at North Oak Trafficway and Barry Road in the Northland. A display listed a price of $6.99 but customers were charged $8.99 even with a Walgreens reward card, Koster said.
Some customers said fighting to get their money refunded wasn't worth the initial.
The suit seeks an injunction that would force Walgreen Co. to stop the alleged deceptive practices.
A Walgreen Co. spokesman for the Chicago-based company issued the following statement:
"We have a 112-year history of acting in our customers' best interests, and that will continue to be our focus. While we won't comment on the complaint itself, we were disappointed and disagree with the attorney general's comments. However, we are prepared to have a constructive dialogue about the issues he raised and address any appropriate concerns," the email says.
Koster said California and Wisconsin previously have investigated Walgreens for unfair pricing. Koster said he wants to use the legal process to see if this is sloppiness or common practice from the corporate suits.
"This level of deception is inexcusable from a corporation as sophisticated as Walgreens," he said.
Koster said the company could be forced to pay up to $1,000 per violation.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:43 PM EDT2014-07-30 22:43:54 GMT
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