Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine M. Pacioni said in a Dec. 30 statement that her Consumer Protection Unit — along with the San Diego County District Attorney’s office and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office — has entered into a final stipulated judgment with Minnesota-based Fastenal Company regarding allegations that it charged walk-in retail customers undisclosed “shipping and handling” fees.
Fastenal sells industrial and construction supplies at its 138 retail facilities in California. Many of these stores are open to the public for walk-in sales, the Mercury News reported.
Pursuant to the stipulated judgment in this current case, Fastenal Company must pay $625,000 in investigative costs and civil penalties, plus $25,000 in cy pres restitution to the California Consumer Protection Prosecution Trust Fund. Fastenal is also ordered to establish and maintain an audit program and an employee training program to ensure future compliance. The stipulated judgment includes a new permanent injunction that enjoins Fastenal from intentionally engaging in similar violations in the future.
Prosecutors allege that, since 2015, Fastenal sold certain in-stock goods to customers at these stores without disclosing that it was adding “shipping and handling” surcharges for these products, in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law.
The prosecutors alleged that Fastenal further failed to provide customer-facing screens that display the prices of goods and surcharges as they are scanned, as required by section 13300 of the Business and Professions Code, preventing customers from noticing the surcharges prior to payment.
At the time of these violations, Fastenal was under a permanent injunction not to intentionally engage in these same acts within California, the published statement says.
On Sept. 13, 2011, the California Superior Court for the County of San Diego entered a stipulated judgment against Fastenal Company in a similar public enforcement action by the People of the State of California, which enjoined Fastenal Company from these violations and from otherwise engaging in false advertising or unfair competition.