General Gansler Settles with BJ's Wholesale Club
Agrees to Stop Offering Deceptive Buy One Get One Free Coupons
MD ( April 1, 2010) - Attorney General Douglas F.
Gansler today announced that his Consumer Protection Division
has reached a settlement with BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc.
(BJ’s), the Massachusetts-based warehouse club operator.
The Division alleged that BJ’s provided consumers “Buy
One Get One Free” coupons for certain goods, but the
coupons’ fine print limited the coupons’ value
to an amount that was, in some instances, less than the cost
of the item. Consumers who used the “Buy One Get One
Free” coupons were required to pay the difference between
the limit of the coupons and the actual cost of the goods purchased.
The Division alleged that during late 2008 and early 2009,
more than 2,000 Maryland consumers were charged for items that
should have been free.
“Businesses in Maryland must abide by the law and when
they advertise something for free, it is just that – free,” said
Attorney General Gansler. “As a result of this agreement,
BJ’s has agreed to stop these deceptive practices and reimburse
customers in Maryland.”
BJ’s denied that it violated the Consumer Protection Act.
Under the terms of the settlement, BJ’s is returning all
monies it charged consumers in connection with the “Buy One
Get One Free” coupons for goods that were supposed to be
free. It has also agreed to not charge consumers any money in the
future for goods that are supposed to be free. BJ’s also
agreed to pay the Consumer Protection Division a $40,000 penalty.
Consumers who are
eligible to receive refunds will receive a letter from BJ’s along with a refund check. BJ’s
operates nine wholesale clubs in Maryland.