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Lowe’s to Pay $1.6M for Size Errors

Monday, September 8, 2014

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In its third civil settlement in five months, Lowe's Home Centers LLC is resolving claims that it advertised inaccurate and misleading sizes for its building materials across California.

The North Carolina-based home-improvement giant will pay $1.6 million to settle accusations by five counties that its advertised measurements for structural dimensional building products were wrong.

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Lowe's stores throughout California "described product dimensions that were not the actual product dimensions," the District Attorney's Office said.

"Lowe’s stores throughout the state unlawfully advertised structural dimensional building products for sale, and those advertisements stated, contained, and described product dimensions that were not the actual product dimensions," the Marin County District Attorney's Office announced Aug. 27.

Manufacturers Cited

The release noted that building materials are commonly sold by reference to three dimensions (length, width/depth and thickness), but it did not indicate which products or which measurements were inaccurate. Nor did the release indicate how widespread the practice was.

"In some instances, Lowe's advertisements restated misleading or inaccurate product dimensions provided by the manufacturers or other suppliers of the product," the D.A.'s office said. No suppliers were identified, and a copy of the settlement was not immediately available. 

The civil enforcement action was filed in Marin County Superior Court and led by the district attorneys of Marin, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. But the action claims that the practice occurred statewide.

Making Amends

The judgment requires Lowe's "to immediately remove products from sale" and to "correct false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate product descriptions when Lowe's knows or should know that the product descriptions are untrue or misleading."

Lowe's interior

In some cases, manufacturers provided the inaccurate measurements that were advertised, authorities said. The products and suppliers were not identified.

Under the judgment, Lowe’s must pay $1.47 million in civil penalties and costs of the investigation. An additional $150,000 will be paid to fund further consumer protection-related activities, including quality control and price verification programs conducted by the state.

A permanent injunction bans Lowe's from similar violations in the future. Authorities said the chain had "adopted and implemented enhanced policies and procedures designed to eliminate the use of misleading or inaccurate product dimensions in their advertisements."

"Consumers should expect when making product purchases that retailers are providing accurate information, especially when misinformation could adversely affect building projects that more often than not rely on precise measurements," said Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian.

Lead, Waste Cases

This is Lowe's third brush with authorities since the spring.

On April 17, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the chain would pay $500,000—the largest penalty of its kind yet imposed—to settle claims that it violated federal lead-safe renovation rules.

Lowe's interior

In April, the retailer agreed to pay $18.1 million to settle claims of illegal hazardous-waste disposal at 118 California stores.

The company agreed to implement “a comprehensive, corporate-wide compliance program” at its 1,700-plus U.S. stores to ensure that contractors it hires to perform work minimize lead dust from home renovation activities.

Earlier that month, the company agreed to pay $18.1 million to resolve claims that 118 of its stores across California had been illegally disposing of paint, coatings, adhesives, solvents, batteries and other hazardous wastes for six and a half years.

A state investigation, which included examination of various Lowe's Dumpsters, found that the retailer was "routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes into local landfills throughout California that were not permitted to receive those wastes," authorities said.



Tagged categories: Building materials; Construction; Good Technical Practice; Hazardous waste; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Lowe's; North America; Project Management; Quality control

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