Legality of Price Checks Questioned
By George Anderson
Retailers have probably been checking and comparing the prices charged for goods by their competitors since the days of bartering, but advances in technology has led one retailer to claim in a lawsuit that another is engaged in “corporate espionage” and “stealing sensitive information.”
A grocer in Oklahoma, Super H, filed a suit in Osage County District Court alleging Wal-Mart workers were illegally scanning bar codes of items on its shelves.
The bar codes, contends Super H, contained information about its cost for the product, inventory levels and other data it considered proprietary.
The attorney for Super H, Gentner Drummond, told The Associated Press there was nothing illegal in Wal-Mart employees walking the aisles of his client’s store and noting prices. He contends, however, that Wal-Mart went over the line when its employees used hand-held scanners to capture information.
Judge John Kane IV agreed with Super H when he granted its request to prohibit the police from returning the scanner allegedly used in the incident to Wal-Mart. The judge ruled that preliminary evidence did leave open the possibility that Wal-Mart was stealing price code information.
“Wal-Mart is not satisfied by being the 800-pound gorilla,” said Mr. Drummond. “They are only going to be satisfied when they kill these little companies. They want to be the 1,200-pound gorilla.”
Wal-Mart denies any wrongdoing in the case.
Moderator’s Comment: What is your position on retailers’ use of scanners in doing price checks on competitors? –
George Anderson – Moderator
- Okla. Grocer Sues Wal-Mart – The Associated Press/ChannelOklahoma.com
- Wal-Mart Accused of Stealing – Knight
Ridder News Service/Billings Gazette
- Wal-Mart says it did not break law at Skiatook grocery store – KOKH FOX25