Hobby Lobby to change advertising practices as part of settlement

Attorney General Mark Herring has reached a settlement with arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby concerning its advertising practices and alleged violations of the Comparison Price Advertising Act and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

In a complaint filed simultaneously with the settlement, Attorney General Herring alleged that Hobby Lobby routinely advertised discounts compared to “other sellers,” but failed to disclose what its prices were actually being compared to as required by law, making it more difficult for customers to figure out if they were actually getting a good price.

“Comparison shopping can be a useful tool for finding good deals, but comparison price advertising only works if businesses are clear about their prices and how they compare to competitors,” said Attorney General Herring. “This settlement is going to give Virginia customers clearer, more accurate information that can help them find the items they want at the best price.”

The settlement includes the following key terms:

  • Hobby Lobby agrees to pay the Attorney General $8,000.00 as a civil penalty for the alleged violations, and as reimbursement of the Commonwealth’s reasonable expenses, costs and attorney’s fees in investigating the matter.
  • A permanent injunction preventing Hobby Lobby from violating the Comparison Price Advertising Act.

The civil settlement is in the form of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed with and recently approved by the Circuit Court of Henrico County.

Hobby Lobby is a nationwide retailer that sells consumer goods including, among other items, furniture, art supplies, fabric, frames, and seasonal décor.  It operates more than 500 stores nationally, including 9 Virginia stores located in Glen Allen, Chesterfield, Virginia Beach, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Danville, Woodbridge, and Leesburg. The company advertises the merchandise it sells through a variety of means including print media, social media, on-line, and in-store signs and pamphlets.

As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Herring and hisrecently reorganized Consumer Protection Section have launched a week-long campaign to help Virginians understand their rights as consumers, and to help Virginia businesses understand their responsibilities to their customers. His consumer protection section has successfully brought enforcement actions against predatory lenders,retailers exploiting veterans and military familiesfake charities, and anti-competitive mergers.

During Attorney General Herring’s administration the OAG Consumer Protection Section has won court orders for approximately $147 million in consumer debt forgiveness, $24.8 million in restitution, and $32 million in civil penalties and attorneys’ fees, and transferred nearly $7 million to the Commonwealth’s General Fund.

Any consumer who believes they may have been the victim of an illegal business practice should contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section to file a complaint or to get additional information about any consumer protection related matter:

 



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