Ralphs Faces More Fines for Overcharging

Ralph’s Grocery Co. has pleaded no contest to charges of overcharging customers and is expected to pay more than $40,000 in fines.

Sentencing for the grocer, owned by Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., was set for Wednesday on 62 criminal counts of overcharging customers, false advertising and false labeling at more than a dozen stores in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reported.

As a result of a plea agreement, the charges against Kroger were dropped, the Times reported.

The charges against Kroger were unfounded, as the violations were not intentional, Ralphs spokeswoman Kendra Doyle told the Times. “These are isolated events caused by human error and not a systemic problem,” she said. “We have redoubled all of our efforts to ensure accuracy.”

When charged in May, Ralphs faced fines and penalties of up to $256,000 each. The violations were found last year during undercover inspections of 14 stores by the Los Angeles County Department of Weights and Measures, the Times reported.

Inspectors made test purchases and found that the stores overcharged on prepackaged and weighed products such as fried chicken, bulk coffee, salads and fish. The chain was fined for similar violations in 2008 and 2009.

In 2008, Ralphs paid $6,500 in fines after inspectors found that the chain was overcharging customers, including short-weighing packages, the Times reported. In 2009, 30 Ralphs stores were cited for similar violations and paid $10,400 in fines.

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