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L.A. sues Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears and Kohl’s for allegedly misleading shoppers with fake ‘original’ prices

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles city attorney’s office has sued four big retailers, alleging deceptive advertising that it says misled shoppers into believing that thousands of products were on sale at a hefty discount.

The retailers — JC Penney, Sears, Kohl’s and Macy’s — falsely advertised high “list” or “regular” prices on merchandise that was never actually for sale at that price, according to the lawsuits filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. That led customers to believe that they were getting a better bargain with the “sale” price than they actually were.

These tactics — called false reference pricing — “play a major role in the companies’ overall marketing and business strategies,” the L.A. city attorney’s office said in a statement.

JC Penney said it “doesn’t comment on pending litigation.” Sears declined to comment, while Macy’s and Kohl’s did not respond to requests for comment.