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Kohl’s Sued for Exaggerated Savings Claims

Kohl's bargainRecently, a Wisconsin consumer sued Kohl’s for deceptive pricing practices alleging that the retailer inflated it’s regular and original prices on price tags and in advertising to make the savings they promised seem greater than they really were. The complaint also alleges that in many cases the goods rarely or ever sold for the so-called “regular” or “original” prices.

The consumer’s lawyer tracked Kohl’s prices for a 15-month time period, and found over 9,000 products on its website were on sale more than half the time. And…


… some products were perpetually on sale for as many as 90 days out of every 90-day window. In short, the data shows that Kohl’s turns the concept of a “sale” on its head: for the vast majority of products, the so-called “sale” price is the regular and normal price, while the higher advertised “Regular” or “Original” comparison price is the temporary and unusual exception.

MrConsumer says so what else is new? Twenty years ago, he tracked the prices of 20 items at Kohl’s for 103 consecutive days, and found that 55-percent of items rarely if ever sold for the so-called regular or original price. And one-out-of-four items was always on sale and never sold at full price, not even for one day.

Years later, we exposed the ambiguous definitions of regular or original prices used by Kohl’s back in 2006 and spotlighted a similar lawsuit to the current one against the company in 2013.

Nonetheless, we as consumers, should all continue to be outraged that companies use deceptive practices like this year after year, and no one has gotten them to conform to the law.

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18 thoughts on “Kohl’s Sued for Exaggerated Savings Claims”

  1. If this store has been shown to do this for many years how it is possible tha no sanctions have been made? It is clearly deceptive and a major reason I do my shopping elsewhere.

  2. Once bought a knife set at Kohls, listed for $236. I had numerous coupons, plus the sale price, only paid about $125. I felt great, what a deal. Checked the same set on Amazon, $86, free shipping. Busted my bubble real quick!

  3. If it wasn’t for these games and gimmicks, Kohl’s wouldn’t exist. They wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. That being said, as JC Penney learned, these games and gimmicks exist for a reason, we live in a world where a significant portion of the populace repeatedly fall for them, and, in fact, enjoy them. As long as consumers “enable” the behavior, it will continue.

  4. I will say it yet again. Men and women working for Kohl’s and the likes of Kohl’s sit around a conference table and plot how to screw us consumers. How do they live with themselves?

  5. Years ago the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) watched for false intended misleading advertising. When the FTC found such advertising, it came down hard on the offender.
    We do not see that happening now. Why? The FTC’s funding has been substantially reduced by Congress over the years to the point that the FTC no longer can track such advertising.
    Big business wins again.

  6. Edgar’s comment, “MrConsumer says so what else is new?” really does sum it up well. Think of how long Sears essentially did the same thing, as well as Penneys. And when Penneys, under their new CEO at the time, decided to price things honestly, their sales plummeted; they then returned to their old tactics.

    So, David, above, is right–we consumers revel in it, and allow it. Kohl’s does it because Kohl’s ad guys are marketing geniuses, their deceptive and misleading pricing works, makes Kohl’s a ton of money, and legal or not, they handily get away with it.

  7. Went to one about 15 years ago. Didn’t like it and never went back.
    My thought at the time was “What kind of people would shop here?”

  8. This is nothing new and for sure Penney’s, Macy’s and many other clothing stores primarily aimed at women are guilty of the same thing so why Kohls is being singled out for this is beyond me. I am a confirmed shopper at many such stores including Kohls for decades so I know what I’m talking about. It’s just a fact of life by now and has been going on forever. As someone said above, about a decade or so ago Penney’s tried to offer one fair, honest price with no sales gimmicks but it failed miserably, so like it or not this is what the public has been conditioned to work with and it does work. I just tune out all the idealism and try to get the lowest price I can with a combination of sales and coupons, because right now we don’t have any realistic way of changing the situation if the FTC has virtually no power. I’m more angry at Kohls for scaling back on its petite size offerings this year. Thanks to the closure of many women’s stores we have fewer and fewer places to shop all the time, especially at middle class prices. I have had to branch out to LOFT, which is just as bad at having jacked up “regular” prices and crazy sales that come and go daily. This situation is just a fact of life, sorry to say.

    Coincidentally I was just angry yesterday with Kohls for giving me a 15% off coupon after I made an Amazon return only to read the “mouseprint” and find that it was only good in the store, not for online purchases. Meanwhile there is precious little I would want to buy in the store because they aren’t restocking it well anymore. Plus they have closed most fitting rooms so they can cut back on employees. If they want people to buy in the store they are going to have to stock it better than they do. Dumb coupons when there’s no merchandise to buy are not the way to do it. Now they just stock the racks at the beginning of the season, the stuff runs out and they barely restock anything for the rest of the season. The same tired, picked over stuff sits on the racks for months until it goes on clearance. If they think this is a way for their brick and mortar stores to stay in business, they are seriously mistaken.

  9. As someone who has worked for years on the pricing team at Kohl’s, mind you not in setting the prices myself but in entering them into the system, I can 100% confirm this happens where they increase the list price and put the sale price at the previous list price. For new merchandise, they also count the days the product is in transit to the stores and the days it sits in the back room waiting to be displayed as “off sale” days so that they can more quickly put the merchandise “on sale” when it is finally made available to purchase.

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