Best Buy to Pay $399K to Settle Suit in CT

The electronics retailer, which is accused of overcharging customers by advertising lower prices on its Web site than at its in-store kiosks, did not admit to any wrongdoing.

Richfield-based Best Buy Company, Inc., has reached a settlement with the State of Connecticut through which it will pay the state $399,000 to have a lawsuit dropped.

The State of Connecticut, through Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, filed a lawsuit in May 2007 accusing the electronics retailer of violating the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The company is accused of advertising lower prices on its Web site than at its in-store kiosks-and then overcharging customers in its stores by requiring them to pay the higher price at the register. In its settlement, Best Buy did not admit to any wrongdoing.

Best Buy wrote in an e-mailed statement to Twin Cities Business on Wednesday that it has “vigorously and consistently defended itself” against the allegations.

Although the state has agreed to drop the charges, the financial repercussions for Best Buy may continue.

Under the terms of the settlement, Best Buy has agreed to reimburse certain customers for the difference between the in-store kiosk prices and the online prices that they were actually charged.

To be eligible for the reimbursement, consumers must have purchased a product at a Connecticut store at a price that was higher than the one they saw on prior to making the purchase, the customer must have used the kiosk Web site to view the product and price.

The settlement, which was filed Monday, did not indicate the total number of people who may be eligible for reimbursement. Best Buy agreed to post a form in each of its Connecticut stores informing consumers that they can apply for restitution if they are eligible.

The state will determine the amount of restitution for claims that don't exceed $100. For claims in excess of $100, if the parties can't agree on whether restitution is warranted, the court will decide.

Best Buy said in a statement that 16 consumers were identified over the past seven years who raised an issue with Best Buy's kiosk prices, and the company took action in 2007 to ensure those consumers' claims were resolved.

“Our commitment to helping consumers has not wavered throughout this experience, and we will continue to ensure they have the best information in hand when they shop with Best Buy,” the company said.

Best Buy is Minnesota's third-largest public company based on revenue from its most recently completed fiscal year, which totaled $49.7 billion.