Bloomingdale's, Macy's Accused of Massive False Pricing Scheme

A new trend in fashion is emerging and it is not slip dresses as outerwear. No, the new trend centers on consumers filing lawsuits against brands and retailers for fixing retail prices in a way that is misleading. On the heels of a lawsuit filed against Kate Spade for falsely advertising original prices and corresponding price discounts on goods, Macy’s and Bloomingdale's are now being accused of intentionally duping consumers by way of their pricing practices.

According to a proposed class action lawsuit filed last week in California federal court, the retailers have allegedly raised prices in stores (and not just outlet stores) to make their purported sale discounts appear steeper. Plaintiffs Kristin Haley and Sylvia Thompson claimed in their lawsuit that Macy’s and its subsidiary, Bloomingdale's, “regularly deceive and mislead customers by labeling products at regular and outlet stores throughout the U.S. with prices intentionally set above a manufacturer’s suggested retail price in order to make customers think they are were receiving a substantial discount on “sale” items.

The plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s “prices were artificially inflated and arbitrary and did not represent a bona fide price at which they previously sold such products or the prevailing market price for such items.” Moreover, the retail giants allegedly “then offered, on the same sales labels or tags or on signs above the merchandise, to sell the items for a reduced or discounted sale price, which supposedly represented a significant discount off of the false original, regular or compare at price.” The complaint asserts that such behavior puts the retailers in violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines against fictitious pricing schemes.

As a result, Haley and Thompson claim that the defendants’ behavior amounts to Unfair Business Practices, Fraudulent Business Practices, Unlawful Business Practices, False Advertising, and violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. In addition to a jury trial, they want the court to award them damages and to order that the retailers be disgorged of “all profits and unjust enrichment that Defendants obtained from Plaintiffs and the Class as a result of their unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices described herein.”

As in other proposed class action lawsuits, the named plaintiffs hope the court will certify their lawsuit and thereby allow them to represent and legally bind an entire class (in this case, other Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s shoppers who have been duped by the retailers’ alleged “sham” pricing during a set period of time) through this single lawsuit.