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2002-11-20
Boston, MA. Home Depot Settles Lawsuit with $3.8 million payment on Unit Pricing.

They did it in Michigan, now they've done it in Massachusetts. The company that likes to call itself 'the most admired retailer' has had to shell out $3.8 million to settle a class action lawsuit that said it failed to follow state law regarding affixing prices on its goods. Home Depot has 31 stores in the Baystate, and they have been ignoring the law which says goods must be "unit priced", so that consumers can compare the unit price to that marked on the bin, or at the cash register. Home Depot called the settlement "the best possible outcome under the circumstances." If losing $3.8 million is the best they could do, imagine what the worst would have been. "The bottom line is it's the law," Home Depot told The Boston Globe, "and whether it's good or bad, it is the law and we are bound to comply with it." So how come it took three years to decide to comply? Maybe Home Depot saw the unit price it would pay for its continuing legal bills in this case, or realized they were going to lose anyway. The Home Depot settlement will not go to consumers, but to a variety of community groups, from Habitat for Humanity, to the National Consumer Law Center. $725,000 will go to a newly created Consumer Resource Fund. Massachusetts has had a unit pricing law for at least three decades, and it exempts certain items from being priced, such as individual nails, but requires a box of nails to be stamped with a price. The lawsuit was brought by Colman Herman, a freelance writer who asked Home Depot's store in Quincy, MA to comply with the pricing law. Herman went to the Attorney General's office, which took no action, so Herman went to small claims court, and won a $25 judgement. But Home Depot still took no action to unit price. So Herman took his case to District Court, where a judge eventually fined Home Depot $13,625 for not taking the pricing law seriously. Eventually two attorneys from the city of Medford filed a class action suit against Home Depot, seeking damages of $25 for each consumer affected. The case came to settlement on November 18th, when Home Depot agreed to achieve "substantial compliance" with the law.

What you can do: Apparently Michigan and Massachusetts are the only jurisdictions with unit pricing laws to protect consumers. For more background on the trouble Home Depot got into in Michigan over this same issue, search this database by the words "unit pricing".










 
 
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