A recent summary judgment in a case against Safeway Inc. shows businesses that how they say things online can have a profound impact on what they can do. Our California readers might find this summary judgment interesting.
The complaint against Safeway was that the store was charging more for products ordered online and delivered to customers than they were charging at brick-and-mortar stores. The class action lawsuit claimed that Safeway was breaking its service contract by upping the prices.
The allegation was that every item resulted in an overcharge of at least 10 percent because of the method Safeway used to factor prices. Items that were $.01 to $.99 in the store had an extra $.10 added online. From then, the increment was $.10 added to every $1 of in-store cost of an item.
Safeway argued that the terms for online purchases didn't mean that the prices would be the same as in-store purchases. That argument was dismissed by a U.S. District judge. The judge said that the prices must be the same for online and in-store purchases with the exception of delivery fees and other special charges that are disclosed.
Safeway is now responsible for the aggregate amount of markups for online items from "April 12, 2010 through the present." The judge ruled that consumers who shopped at Safeway are entitled to damages. There is a case management conference for this case on Jan. 21, 2015.
Businesses that are going through this sort of litigation need to ensure they fully understand the claims against them. They should learn how to present their side to the court. Getting an early start on case development is vital for business owners fighting this sort of accusation.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Safeway Class Wins Summary Judgment" Philip A. Janquart, Dec. 11, 2014