SEATTLE Attorney General Christine Gregoire today announced that Levitz Furniture Corporation has agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million to Washington and seven other states to settle claims for advertising deceptive discounts off its "regular" furniture prices.
"Sales advertised by Levitz often were based on illusion, not real savings," said Gregoire. "Regular prices were inflated and then reduced, often giving customers little or no savings at all."
Washington state will receive $102,500, $72,000 of which will be distributed to non-profit organizations to buy furnishings for low-income housing or shelters in the communities where Levitz did business. Levitz has stores in Tukwila, Tacoma and Lynnwood. The state also will receive $30,500 to cover legal costs.
According to Gregoire, the agreement with Levitz will serve as a blueprint for other retailers because it sets up comprehensive standards to ensure advertised discounts represent legitimate savings to consumers.
"The retail community has consistently asked us for specific guidance on advertisements," said Gregoire. "Now, we have standards that can be applied industry-wide."
As part of the standards, Levitz agreed not to advertise discounts off "regular" prices unless 20% of the total sales for that item were at the "regular" price, and the item was offered at the "regular" price at least 60% of the time.
"Sales have become an every day event, making it difficult for consumers to know a real bargain," said Gregoire. "That's why it's important to shop around and then buy based on the actual price, not the advertised savings or percentage off."
Levitz, which is headquartered in Boca-Raton, Florida, also entered similar settlements with Arizona, Califor nia, Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Texas.
The consent decree, filed in King County Superior Court, was handled by Assistant Attorney Janet Reis and Investigator William Cookson.
Consumers with questions or complaints about deceptive advertising practices should call the Attorney General's Office at 800-551-4636 or 800-833-6384 for the hearing impaired.