Actions

Customer sues Kroger, claims Rx Savings Club advertised low prices but charged members more than retail

Did Kroger violate OH Consumer Sales Practices Act with its Rx Savings Club prices?
A Montgomery man sues Kroger over unfair advertising of Rx Savings Club.
Posted at 5:14 PM, Apr 20, 2023

CINCINNATI — A Montgomery man is suing Kroger for allegedly advertising steep savings for prescription club members, but then charging higher-than-retail prices on some drugs.

Richard Purdue and his wife, Anne, filed the lawsuit in Hamilton County last June. In a bid for class-action status, the suit alleges unfair and deceptive advertising that violates the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and could involve customers across the state, and potentially the nation, if the lawsuit is expanded.

“This is a class action where there could be hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions,” said Purdue’s attorney, Bill Markovits. “It’s happening nationwide, but our case is based in Ohio.”

Richard Purdue sued Kroger in June 2022 alleging deceptive advertising.
Richard Purdue sued Kroger in June 2022 alleging deceptive advertising.

Purdue spent $72 for a yearly family membership to the Kroger Rx Savings Club in 2019 because he thought it would lower his prescription costs. The club website touts “drastically reduced prices on thousands of popular prescription drugs,” according to the lawsuit.

But Purdue said he discovered that he actually paid more with the Savings Club than he would have without using his membership.

“I felt like I was misled by the advertising,” said Purdue, a retired compliance officer from Fifth Third Bank who began researching drug costs after he suspected that he was paying too much.

A Montgomery man sues Kroger over unfair advertising of Rx Savings Club.
A Montgomery man sues Kroger over unfair advertising of Rx Savings Club.

A Kroger spokesperson declined to comment. In court filings, the company denied Purdue’s accusations and asked Court of Common Pleas Judge Meghan Shanahan to dismiss the lawsuit.

But the judge sided against Kroger, allowing the case to proceed.

“The court finds that plaintiff’s allegations sufficiently set forth unfair and deceptive acts and practices … to survive this motion to dismiss,” according to the Jan. 26 court order.

Markovtis said the next step is to gather discovery and take depositions of Kroger corporate representatives.

“That will be one of the first things we’re looking at — how many people have these (Kroger Rx Savings Club) cards in Ohio,” said Markovits, who estimates it could be hundreds of thousands.

Montgomery man questions advertising used by Kroger Rx Savings Club.
Montgomery man questions advertising used by Kroger Rx Savings Club.

Kroger advertises its Rx Savings Club as being powered by GoodRx pricing, according to its website. As a club member, Purdue said he assumed that meant he got the GoodRx discount price on prescriptions.

“About a year and a half after joining the club I came home one day and I told my wife I paid ‘X’ for this drug and she’s like, ‘Boy that seems like a lot,’” Purdue said. “I looked it up on Kroger Rx and sure enough I was not getting the GoodRx price.”

Purdue also discovered that Savings Club members pay higher than retail prices on many prescription drugs, according to the lawsuit.

Attorney Bill Markovits said lawsuit against Kroger could impact hundreds of thousands in Ohio.
Attorney Bill Markovits said lawsuit against Kroger could impact hundreds of thousands in Ohio.

“If you’re prescribed Naporsyn (an anti-inflammatory with a common brand name of Aleve) and you go into Kroger and you just pay cash, you’re going to pay $6,” Markovits said. “If you show them your Kroger Rx Savings Club card, they’re going to charge you $15. So instead of getting a savings, you’re paying a penalty and no where do they disclose that.”

When Purdue asked Kroger for his money back, he said the company would only refund purchases made within the past 10 days. He said he overpaid by several hundred dollars on prescriptions.

“That’s when I said ‘This isn’t right, I should go talk to a lawyer,’ because I’m sure there’s hundreds if not thousands of Ohio consumers that are in the same situation,” Purdue said.

The case is set for trial in February 2025. The lawsuit asks for an injunction to prevent Kroger from, “continuing to promote its Savings Club using false and misleading representations and omissions,” and continuing to charge club members more than retail price or with a GoodRx plan.

Find WCPO 9 everywhere you stream!

Let the I-Team investigate
Send us your story tips today to iteam@wcpo.com
Or call 513-852-4999