Walmart is the latest retailer to face a proposed class action over the number of cups its packages of ground coffee can actually make.
According to the 20-page lawsuit out of California, Walmart has “grossly exaggerated” the number of cups that containers of its Great Value-brand ground coffee can make as a means to “induce consumer purchases” and to charge more for less product.
“Indeed, it is a classic and unlawful bait-and-switch scheme that causes unsuspecting consumers to spend more money for less than the advertised amount of coffee they believe they are purchasing,” the case alleges, echoing recent lawsuits centered on Folgers, Maxwell House and other ground coffee products.
Per the case, the plaintiff, a San Diego County resident who sued the Kraft Heinz Company over similar allegations on July 31, and other consumers bought Walmart’s Great Value ground coffee with the reasonable belief that following the brewing directions on the back label would produce the advertised number of servings. Consumers would not have bought Great Value ground coffee, or would have paid less, had they known that the products do not contain enough coffee to yield the number of cups promised, the complaint claims.
According to the suit, all varieties and sizes of Walmart’s Great Value ground coffee are falsely and misleadingly labeled with regard to how many cups can be made from a canister.
The brewing instructions for Walmart’s ground coffee advise consumers to use one “heaping” tablespoon of ground coffee to make one six-ounce serving, the case says. The math behind the defendant’s serving instructions, however, simply doesn’t add up to the number of total cups represented on product labels, the lawsuit contends. From the complaint:
“By way of example, as depicted above, Defendant represents on the 30.5 oz canister of Great Value Classic Roast that it ‘MAKES UP TO 240 CUPS.’
As set forth above, 1 tablespoon of ground coffee is needed to make 1 serving/cup. Therefore, 240 tablespoons of ground coffee are needed to make 240 servings/cups.
As set forth above, one tablespoon of Great Value’s ground coffee weighs approximately 5 grams. Therefore, 1,200 grams of ground coffee are needed to make the promised 240 servings [240 tablespoons x 5 grams].
However, the 30.5 oz canister has a net weight of 865 grams. Therefore, it contains only 72% of the amount of ground coffee required to make up to 240 cups of coffee [(865 / 1,200) x 100%]. This is equivalent to approximately 173 cups of coffee.”
It is impossible for a canister of Walmart’s Great Value coffee to make “anywhere close” to the promised number of cups, the case summarizes, claiming consumers have been shorted on the total number of servings by as much as 72 percent per package.
The suit looks to cover consumers in California who bought any Great Value coffee canisters or tins that advertised a number of coffee cups the product would purportedly produce and who have not received a refund or credit for their purchase.
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