Wal-Mart's $775K Fine For Selling Expired Products A Good ROI Lesson

On Tuesday (Oct. 19), Wal-Mart agreed to pay the State of New Jersey $775,000 to settle charges that it sold infant formula and non-prescription drugs beyond their marked expiration dates and that items on sale scanned at incorrect prices. The chain also agreed to try really hard to not get caught doing it any more.

Even though Wal-Mart is one of the few businesses that could honestly consider a $775K payment a nuisance settlement (one where its legal and related costs would far outdistance the cost of just writing the darn check), it underscores the ROI value of automating price-check and expiration dates This is one of the areas where the upcoming G2 barcodes should help: By adding the expiration date to a product's data, expired items will be caught at the POS. Until then, consider the size of this fine—and the fact that it covers only one state, with 49 more in the U.S. alone. (Note: Target was also a defendant in this action, but it settled last year for a mere $375,000.)