SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A new class-action lawsuit against T.J. Maxx may give bargain hunters buyer's remorse when they learn the retailer's oft-touted 'compare at' prices are "staff estimates," not real prices at luxury department stores.
T.J. Maxx regularly advertises their name brand products are "up to 60% off department store prices," and uses the 'compare at' price tags to convince shoppers they are getting designer goods at bargain prices.
The lawsuit was brought by two shoppers who purchased items at the retailer with a price tag showing a "compare at" price that was significantly higher than the sale price.
Plaintiffs, Staci Chester and Daniel Friedman said they thought 'compare at' meant that was the price "they would expect to pay for those same items at other retailers in their general area."
According to T.J. Maxx, the 'compare at' price is "buying staff's estimate of the regular, retail price at which a comparable item in finer catalogs, specialty or department stores may have been sold."
The retailer posts this on its website and invites consumers to do their "own comparison shopping" to see the value of their purchases.
The lawsuit says T.J. Maxx's 'compare at' policy is not explained on the actual price tags or in the price advertising and therefore "they are not true, bona fide comparative prices." It says the retailer "tricks shoppers into thinking they are saving a specific amount" on their purchases.
The suit, Chester et al. v. The TJX Cos. Inc., charges T.J. Maxx with "unfair business practices, fraudulent business practices, unlawful business practices, false advertising, and with violating California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act." Details of the lawsuit were published on the website, Top Class Actions.
T.J. Maxx issued a statement to the Huffington Post in its defense:
"We tell our customers what we mean by 'compare at' prices, both through signage in our stores as well as language on our T.J. Maxx website. Transparency is important to us and integrity is ingrained in our culture. Beyond that, we do not comment on pending litigation."
There are some 25 T.J. Maxx stores in the Bay Area.
CBSSF.com writer, producer Jan Mabry is also executive producer and host of The Bronze Report. She lives in Northern California. Follow her on Twitter @janmabr.
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