Santa Barbara County and three other counties have settled a consumer protection action against Best Buy.
The electronics chain has agreed to revise its business practices and pay a total of $633,570 in the settlement, which was announced Monday by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley and district attorneys in San Diego, Alameda and Riverside counties.
The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office said Best Buy, which has retail outlets in Goleta and Santa Maria, did not admit to liability.
The case concerned Best Buy’s pricing accuracy and return policy.
The District Attorney’s Office explained that the complaint alleged that Best Buy misrepresented the price of items sold and failed to accurately disclose material aspects of its return policy, among other violations.
The Santa Barbara County Weights & Measures Department discovered pricing-accuracy violations, as did other weights and measures departments across the state, the District Attorney’s Office noted.
The office explained that the final judgment requires Best Buy to institute changes in its business practices to ensure there’s no recurrence of the problems identified in the complaint. These include a renewed pricing-accuracy program and enhanced disclosures of return policies.
Without admitting liability, Best Buy agreed to pay $449,065 in civil penalties, $109,505 in costs and $75,000 in restitution. Of these funds, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office will receive $112,266 in civil penalties and $20,000 in costs. The Santa Barbara County Weights & Measures Department will receive $3,840 in costs.
As required by California law, the civil penalties will be used for the enforcement of consumer protection laws.
“Consumers are entitled to being charged the lowest advertised price and to return policies with clear and conspicuous terms,” District Attorney Dudley said in a statement. “We are grateful that Best Buy cooperated and agreed to modify its practices. If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a complaint with my office, and we will investigate it, no matter the size of the company.”
The District Attorney website explains how to submit a consumer complaint form. Go to countyofsb.org/da/civ_consumer_protection.html. Consumer complaint forms are available in English and Spanish.