Wal-Mart defends low-price ads after rivals' objection
(Reuters) - Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) has gone on the defensive against charges by competitors that a recent ad campaign is using inaccurate information, leading the competitors to file complaints with state legal officials.
A Wal-Mart Stores spokesman defended the retailer's ad campaign that claims to offer better prices on some products than competitors, after the Wall Street Journal reported rivals have complained to attorneys general in more than half a dozen states.
In documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, rivals have claimed that Wal-Mart's advertisements cross a line by making misleading comparisons or promoting products the company does not have in ample supply.
Wal-Mart ads have targeted retailers including Toys "R" Us Inc (TOYS.N) and Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N), as well as several regional supermarket chains. Best Buy complained about a Wal-Mart ad to the Florida attorney general's office, while Toys "R" Us complained to Michigan officials, the Journal said.
"We know competitors don't like it when we tell customers to compare prices and see for themselves," Wal-Mart spokesperson Steven Restivo told the Wall Street Journal. "We are confident on the legal, ethical and methodological standards associated with our price comparison advertisements," he added.
Restivo confirmed to Reuters the accuracy of his comments published by the Journal.
Wal-Mart, which launched the radio and television ads last spring, said the initial ads spurred a 1.2 percent boost in sales at stores open at least a year and a 1.1 percent rise in store visits in areas where those ads were aired, compared with similar regions where they did not run.
Wal-Mart told the paper it responded to attorneys general in Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Missouri over complaints from regional supermarket chains and Toys "R" Us. (link.reuters.com/dan94t)
The company said it has not received complaints from Best Buy. The attorneys general offices in Florida and New Jersey said they were reviewing similar complaints, according to the paper.
Toys "R" Us and Best Buy officials could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters after regular U.S. business hours.
(Reporting by Avik Das in Bangalore; Additional reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in New York; Editing by Matt Driskill)
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