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Chevron pays part of $140,000 settlement to Yolo, Contra Costa, Riverside, Santa Cruz counties
After Chevron U.S.A. failed to comply with a law that required it to cash out gift cards with balances under $10 on request, it reached a $140,000 settlement with the district attorneys of Yolo, Contra Costa, Riverside and Santa Cruz counties
Chevron, an energy company headquartered in San Ramon, Calif., has gas stations throughout the country. Effective since 2008, a law in California requires retailers to allow the option of cashing out gift cards under $10. Additionally, gift cards cannot contain an expiration date if they are sold after 1997.
The investigations began over a year ago in response to a citizen complaint, according to district attorney assistant David Irey. The main attorney who was working on the case was DA Larry Barley.
District attorney investigators surveyed 55 Chevron stations throughout California as part of their investigation. Of these stations, 14 are in Yolo County. Many of the clerks at the stations would not cash out gift cards that totalled under $10.
“Protecting consumers and ensuring they are able to obtain benefits for which they are entitled is a fundamental purpose of this office,” said Yolo County district attorney Jeff Reisig in a statement released by the Yolo County DA office.
Additionally, many Chevron stations didn’t follow another gift card law. If there is a price disparity between cash and credit card purchases, the law requires that gift cards charge the cash price.
“We reached an agreement with Chevron and filed it simultaneously — the complaint, the alleged violations of the law, and the judgement, and the agreement or the contract of the court to settle the case,” Irey said.
Chevron did not admit any wrongdoing. However, the company did agree to reach a settlement of $141,355, according to the press release. Of this, Chevron agreed to pay $100,000 in fines and $16,000 in restitution. In order to pay for the court costs, $25,000 was given to the four counties. According to Irey, the money received will be split between the four counties.
Additionally, Contra Costa County superior court judge John Kennedy has ordered Chevron to instate a compliance program for both corporate and independent Chevron stations.
As a part of this compliance program, store employees must inform gift card holders that they can redeem these gift cards for cash or check if the balance is under $10. The message will be relayed on signs posted near the register, on the internet and on the back of the gift cards.
A press release by the Contra Costa County districts office stated that, “once these violations were called to the attention of Chevron management, Chevron [was] extremely cooperative in working out a resolution.”
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