Walmart misled customers with oversized containers, California prosecutors say. Now it’ll pay

Customers walk outside of a Walmart store in San Jose, Calif.
Customers walk outside of a Walmart store in San Jose, Calif. AP Photo

Walmart misled customers by packaging some of its health and beauty products in oversized containers, prosecutors say, and now the company will pay $495,000 in costs and penalties.

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office announced in a news release Wednesday that its office, along with five other California district attorney’s offices, reached a settlement with Walmart Inc. in a civil enforcement action.

“The civil complaint filed by prosecutors alleged that Walmart packaged 14 of its health and beauty products in oversized containers which could have misled consumers into believing that they were purchasing more of the product than they were actually receiving,” the news release states.

There are 12 Walmart stores in Fresno County.

“Offering quality products at affordable prices while maintaining high safety standards is an important part of earning the trust of the millions of customers we serve each week,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said. “We are happy to have worked closely with several counties to address product labeling concerns by reducing packaging sizes and placing an ‘actual size’ silhouette on the boxes.”

The settlement was approved March 12 in Santa Cruz County Superior Court. District attorney’s offices in Placer, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Tulare and Yolo counties were also involved in reaching the settlement.

“Walmart cooperated with the investigation and, without admitting wrongdoing, agreed to improve its packaging practices and to pay $495,000 in costs and penalties,” the news release states.

“Consumers throughout the state should be able to expect that the products they purchase are not packaged in misleading ways,” Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Ty Murphy said. “We are dedicated to ensuring that consumers are not harmed by these types of practices, and we will continue to prosecute companies that violate consumer protection laws.”

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Carmen George is a features and news reporter for The Fresno Bee. Her stories have been recognized with Best of the West, George F. Gruner, and McClatchy President’s awards, and nine first or second place awards from the California News Publishers Association. She has a passion for sharing people’s stories to highlight issues and promote greater understanding.