Editor's Note: Please see an updated story on this issue.
A California Superior Court judge ordered big-box retailer Lowe's to pay $1.6 million as part of a civil consumer protection action settlement. The order, handed down on Aug. 27 by Judge Paul M. Haakenson, came as a response to a case involving claims by the Marin County, Calif., district attorney's office that the retailer "unlawfully advertised structural dimensional building products for sale."
In other words, prosecutors say products such as 2x4s aren't actually two-inches thick and four-inches wide when purchased. But a simple Google search shows it's common knowledge that 2x4s generally do not meet those dimensions when sold.
Amanda Manna, a spokesperson for Lowe's, told REMODELING by phone that this case began when representatives from a local weights and measures division visited one of the company's retail locations and "expressed concerns" about product measurements.
According to the judgement, the retailer was ordered to pay $1.47 million in civil penalties and costs of the investigation, and an additional $150,000 to fund further consumer protection-related activities. Additionally, Lowe's will display actual dimensions next to "commonly used measurements" in product descriptions in nearly 100 stores across California. "In the store, that will be reflected on in-store signage, labels, that sort of thing," Manna said.
"Consumers should expect when making product purchases that retailers are providing accurate information," said Marin County District Attorney Edward S. Berberian. "Especially when misinformation could adversely affect building projects that more often than not rely on precise measurements."