Seven California counties are suing the web retailer, claiming it "routinely" inflated original prices and misled customers into believing they were getting great savings. In fact, the complaint says, they might have been paying more than the item originally cost.In one instance, Overstock sold a patio set on its website for $449 and claimed the "list price" was $999. A consumer who ordered the set, however, reported that it came in a box with a Walmart sticker showing the sale price to be $247.
"Overstock's misrepresentations about its pricing were likely to mislead consumers into believing that [its] prices would always be significantly lower than the prices offered by other merchants for the identical products," the lawsuit stated.
The attorneys want $15 million in fines and restitution.
But Utah-based Overstock says the patio sale was just an isolated incident. And they accuse the attorneys of fishy timing because the complaint was filed just before Christmas.
Jonathan Johnson, president of Overstock.com, says his company has been trying to deal with the California county complaints "for years."
"We profoundly regret that these officials have chosen to file this lawsuit at what appears to us to be a strategically timed moment," he said in a statement today. "Regardless, we have confidence in the California courts to hear and fairly decide these issues. As always, we look forward to our day in court."