Talk about chump change. Oakland-based Clorox, which posted $5.3 billion in revenues last year, agreed to pay $199,654 in a settlement regarding the improper packaging of household bleach products over a two-year period, announced Alameda County district attorney Nancy O'Malley today. The settlement covered civil penalties, law enforcement costs, and restitution after Marin, Monterey, Napa, and Sonoma counties joined Alameda County in bringing a consumer protection action against the company.
The action alleged that Clorox misleadingly bottled two specialty bleach products, Anti-Allergen Bleach and Cold-Water Bleach, sold in retail locations throughout California, between January 2008 and January 2010. The products were packaged in the same three-liter bottles as Clorox Regular Bleach, but filled to only 80 percent of capacity, leaving significant "headspace" at the top of the bottle. This is a violation of California's Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. The company paid the $200,000 settlement (after a quick search of its own laundry bins for coins, no doubt) without admitting any wrongdoing. Clorox is also subject to an injunction prohibiting it from selling any household bleach products packaged in such a way as to be deceptive.
"Weights and measures laws exist so that consumers may accurately calculate the costs of their purchases," said District Attorney Nancy O'Malley in a statement. "It allows consumers to do meaningful comparison shopping between businesses and products. The Alameda County District Attorney's Office will remain vigilant in addressing weights and measures cases. Misrepresentations of the actual contents of a product harm both consumers and other businesses."