LA City Attorney files suit against big retailers for deceptive advertising

With record breaking Cyber Monday sales, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer is getting tough on some major retailers with a lawsuit and says shoppers are being baited into paying more for gifts this year.

Feuer filed civil lawsuits against Macy's, Sears, JC Penney and Kohl's for a practice called false reference pricing for online products.

"False reference pricing means misrepresenting the original or regular price of an item then offering it at a sale because it appears falsely to be a bargain," Feuer explained.

FOX 11 contacted all four retailers. Kohl's and Sears didn't get back, while Macy's and JC Penney responded by saying they don't comment on pending litigation.

"They offer you the discounts but you're really not getting a discount if you think about it," Shopper Helen Barkley of Valencia said. "Obviously they got caught."

She and her mother, Lyn Okane, say they might even consider boycotting their favorite stores.

"It will discourage people from shopping there because it's deceptive, really," Okane added.

The city attorney's months-long investigation revealed evidence other stores may be fixing sale prices too. In its civil suit, the city is seeking an unspecified amount of penalties and an injunction.

In 2015, JC Penney and Kohl's faced federal class-action lawsuits for the same practice. Both agreed to stop. JC Penney settled the suit for $50 million in cash and store credit to customers, while Kohl's agreed to pay out more than $6 million.

Yet according to the Los Angeles city attorney, the practice continues.

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