Pricing Dispute Costs Blockbuster $300,000

Lawsuit alleged chain overcharged for snacks and other merchandise in California

Blockbuster Inc. is paying $300,000 to resolve a lawsuit alleging the video rental chain overcharged some of its California customers for candy, popcorn, movies and other merchandise.

The stipulated judgment announced Monday ends a nearly five-year investigation into the way Blockbuster rang up sales in 14 California counties.

The probe found more than 3,800 discrepancies between the final sales price and the prices that had been advertised or posted in the 82 stores where the problems surfaced, said Gina Darvas, a deputy district attorney for San Diego County.

None of the alleged overcharging involved video rentals, Darvas said.

But inaccurate prices were found on various concessions and movies for sale, triggering an unfair business practice lawsuit by the district attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles counties.

"This does not reflect the way we conduct business at our stores," Blockbuster said in a statement. "We have assured the state that we will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure pricing for the products in our stores is accurate."

Dallas-based Blockbuster has more than 500 stores in California.

The judgment against Blockbuster consists primarily of $237,750 in penalties that will help fund consumer protection programs in San Diego and Los Angeles counties. The remaining $62,250 in investigation costs will be divided among 14 counties: San Diego, Los Angeles, Kern, Napa, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, Ventura, Riverside, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Orange.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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