Paying too much for birds sticks in shopper's craw Lawsuit alleges Perdue, Dominick's overstated the weight of chickens

November 23, 1998|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

CHICAGO -- When it comes to counting its chickens, Dominick's Finer Foods does a bad job, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by an angry customer accusing the grocery chain of grossly overstating the weight -- and thus price -- of the fowl.

Chicagoan Angela Kreider's complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, says that three times she bought Perdue brand chickens at a Dominick's, only to discover that the true weight was far less than the label indicated. The purchases were made from two North Side Dominick's outlets, the lawsuit says.

Her complaint names Northlake, Ill.-based Dominick's Supermarkets Inc., taken over by Safeway Inc. last week, and Maryland-based Perdue Farms Inc.

The lawsuit notes that price is based on weight, and overstating the weight means that customers overpay.

It appears that the chickens were packaged and labeled by Perdue, but that Dominick's did not verify the weight listed, said Kreider's attorney, Clinton A. Krislov of Krislov & Associates in Chicago.

"It was pretty surprising to us, because I, frankly, had assumed that these weights were all double-checked," Krislov said. "Obviously, we think they should be checked."

The complaint lists three purchases: In one made Aug. 24, at a Dominick's store on Broadway, a chicken was labeled 7.09 pounds, but really weighed 2.96 pounds; on Aug. 26, at another store a label said 6.56 pounds, but the bird really weighed 3.41 pounds; and on Sept. 11, at the Broadway store, the label said 8.28 pounds, but the real weight was 4.22 pounds.

Krislov said he does not know what prompted Kreider to double-check that first purchase. But with her suspicions aroused by finding the first error, she continued to weigh chickens she bought.

After finding the second overstated weight, she wrote to Dominick's but was ignored, the complaint says.

She followed up in October, and the grocery chain sent her some store coupons, the complaint says.

She also contacted the law firm, Krislov said.

Dominick's declined to comment, noting that it had not seen a copy of the suit.

Attorneys are asking that the suit be declared a class action on behalf of all Dominick's customers.

Krislov said that preferred-customer cards issued by Dominick's would make it easy to track down a large number of customers who likely had been overcharged.

Pub Date: 11/23/98

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