Call Kurtis Investigates: Lawmaker Reacts to Kohl’s Hidden-Camera Investigation

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.

More from Kurtis Ming
  • Phil

    Did people know that retailors are also charged 6% for using credit cards? By the credit card companies. Or this was what they did a while back. If I use cash, I expect a 6% drop in price, Do I get that? No, Do I still shop there? No.

    • jj

      that’s good poing! They should do like what grocery stores do, give you a discount for bringing your own bag, at least Safeway & that Sunflower Market does. It may only be 10 cents, but it’s the point.

      • jj


  • luanne

    To both gnc manager & Phil – Thank you both for your insight. I always check prices everywhere on the item and on the shelf when a tag is placed over the shelf tag I look to see just how much the price has supposedly “dropped”. Two or three cents isn’t much of a drop in price, you know? I will be an even more careful shopper in the future because of this story and your comments. Thanks!

  • jj

    That is a very expensive sheet set even with the sale price. As a shopper, it is best to know your prices, be familiar with what a store regularily sells and what their regular prices are in order to know the difference. As budget shopper myself, I do pay attention; I hardley ever shop Kohls, they are very expensive, I do browse, and on rare occasions I find something that is actually a deal, but very rare times.

  • Mary

    Well – I’ve always been a fan of Kohl’s because I thought I was getting a good deal…guess I need to start shopping at Ross or Marshall’s where I’m pretty certain their low prices are legit.

  • Phedra

    I have always thought Kohl’s prices were high and only shop there if I need to buy a gift for someone else who likes shopping there. Due to this article, you can be sure i will be looking for other price tickets on items in the future. I think the excuses Kohl’s give are feeble, to say the least. They just don’t fit the situation. i think this should be illegal and Kohl’s should have to pay a fine for deceitful practices.

  • Debra

    As a shopper always looking for the best/lowest prices, I’d like to see more stories such as this one on Kohl’s. Haven’t you ever checked the price on the sticker underneath the “new” sticker price?

    Keep airing more of these reports on local retail business practices, keeping the buying public empowered.

    After purchasing an attractive area rug from Kohl’s during their most recent “sale”, I do feel I received a lower price discount after taking advantage of the coupon you can print online. This discount was applied to my purchase, even though I didn’t have the coupon on hand as my computer printer is out of ink.

  • Meems

    I’ve always shopped at JC Penney and will continue to do so in light of their new pricing they have implemented. I’ve been in Kohl’s twice and both times found everything to be over priced and very tacky and cheaply made. In fact I’m trying to sell a gift card from them that I got for Christmas and no one wants to buy it because they can’t stand the store either. LOL They should be in very big trouble for this mark up policy.

  • TLor

    If you shop regularly, and I mean daily, every store does that!
    Tag say 5.99 for weeks, then you notice it went up a dollar or two, then the ads come out with the ‘sales’. I can’t think of any store that doesn’t play that game, It’s not on all items its just a handful but its very noticeable if you were interested and decided to wait. This isn’t new and its not bait and switch its just that most folks don’t pay attention.

  • lea

    price mark-ups come directly from the manufacturers, not the stores. when the manufacturers raise the prices on their products the stores then have to reticket all of the items they have in their stores with the new price. anyone who works in retail knows this. there’s nothing deceptive about this and the story is absolutely ridiculous in the way it tries to make it look like there’s some big conspiracy to rip people off. biased journalism at it’s finest.

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