Walmart agrees to pay $495,000 for selling products with misleading packaging

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- If you've ever bought something only to find the product inside doesn't quite match the package outside -- you're not alone.

"Like they're trying to deceive you. Hide something. Make you pay more for a product that's not there," said consumer Bryce Bustamante.

Tina Lee says misleading packaging is especially concerning with the amount of non-English speaking shoppers.

"They don't speak English well and so they're buying things based on the packaging, and they could be misled therefore they can get cheated out of their money as well," Lee said.

A civil complaint filed by six counties, including Fresno and Tulare, alleges Walmart deceived customers with the oversized containers some of their store brand "equate" products were sold in.

"Basically had what is referred to as nonfunctional side fill, false sidewalls false bottoms in the packaging," said Fresno County Deputy DA Ty Murphy.

Murphy says the investigation began in 2015. Equate items were purchased off store shelves then analyzed by experts in weights and measurements.

Prosecutors found 14 products that could be considered deceptive.

"Antiaging cream moisturizers there were some eye drops..." Murphy said.

Walmart cooperated with the investigation and, without admitting wrongdoing, agreed to improve its packaging practices and to pay $495,000 in costs and penalties.

"They have agreed to alter the packaging, and we saw prototypes for those some time ago," Murphy said.

Walmart released the following statement:

Offering quality products at affordable prices while maintaining high safety standards is an important part of earning the trust of the millions of customers we serve each week. We are happy to have worked closely with several counties to address product labeling concerns by reducing packaging sizes and placing an "actual size" silhouette on the boxes.

The District Attorney's office says that you can already see the changes to packaging on store shelves.
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