California Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett reacted to a CBS13 undercover investigation showing Kohl’s department stores may be marking up some prices, making sales seem better.
“Why would any retailer want to treat its customers like that?” she told CBS13’s Kurtis Ming.
“That’s not right,” said Sen. Corbett. “To make people think they’re getting a bargain, when they’re not — that’s not right.”
A CBS13 producer found 15 items marked up before they were on sale, including a skillet — marked up to $39.99, now on sale for $34.99. But the producer finds the skillet was previously marked even cheaper — at $29.99.
And a sheet set was marked down to $104.99 as part of a sale, but a price tag inside the packaging shows it was once marked $89.99 — $15 cheaper than the current sale.
“Why would it go up that much?” our producer asked a manager on hidden camera.
“Sometimes when we do scratch off coupons, we mark stuff up,” the manager said.
Producer: “Oh, really? You mark stuff up if a scratch off?”
Manager: “Something like that.”
“If people are being bait and switched and they’re being lured in at a certain price, and it’s really based on a percentage off an inflated price — that’s not kosher,” said Sen. Corbett.
Kohl’s denied any wrongdoing, saying, “Kohl’s does not raise “off sale” prices on a short term basis just for purposes of a future sales event.”
“As is common in the retail industry,” Kohl’s added in its statement, “from time-to-time, product prices are increased due to production and raw material cost increases.”
Sen. Corbett said, at minimum, it’s sloppy business to put a higher price tag on top of a price tag.
“At the very least, you’d think they’d remove the old labels,” she said.
In one example, a CBS13 producer found a bedding set marked up $100.
Kohl’s blamed the rising cost of cotton, and said most of the markups happened in the summer and fall, well before the sales.