A fashionista lawyer who returned black denim shorts to Forever 21 but received a penny less than what she paid is suing the retailer on behalf of fellow customers who “number in the thousands, spread over several states.”
Carolyn Kellman, whose fashion sense was profiled in the Miami Herald in 2007, paid $14.46 for the shorts at the Forever 21 store in the Dolphin Mall on May 12, the complaint filed by Kevin Love of Criden & Love in South Miami said.
Kellman, an attorney with the Strickland Law Firm in Coral Gables, returned the shorts to the Forever 21 in the Shops@Sunset Place on May 30 but was credited $14.45, “or exactly $0.01 less,” the complaint said.
On June 27, Kellman was charged $11.57 for a skirt, also black, at the Sunset Place store. She returned it July 13 and was credited $11.56, according to the complaint, which attaches copies of her receipts and alleges breach of contract, unfair and deceptive practices, and unjust enrichment.
The lawsuit, which accuses the retailer of a “penny-skimming scheme,” seeks class-action status for two groups — anyone who has been charged 1 cent more and anyone refunded 1 cent less by Forever 21 in the past five years. The $15,000 threshold for civil actions in Miami-Dade Circuit Court translates to 1.5 million pennies, or at least 750,000 customers making and returning purchases since 2007.
“It might not be a lot of money, but nonetheless it’s a violation,” Love said, adding he instructed Kellman not to talk with reporters. The suit was filed Aug. 20.
Corporate attorney Max Norman at Forever 21 Retail Inc. headquarters in Los Angeles did not return a call for comment by deadline.
Forever 21 operates more than 480 stores in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America. Forbes projected profits of $124 million last year, and Hoovers estimated $2.6 billion in revenue at the privately held company.
The Strickland firm’s website said Kellman specializes in commercial collections “with an emphasis on stipulated settlement workouts and landlord tenant workouts” and represents national collection agencies dealing with South Florida debtors.
The Herald photographed her wearing Christian Louboutin shoes, a Panerai watch, Sacri Tabu bracelet and gold beads from Studio LX South Miami, a vintage ivory pendant on a black suede cord by Shelly Litvak and diamond stud earrings. She was holding a Balenciaga motorcycle weekender bag.
“I love accessories because they make an outfit. They don’t have to be expensive,” the paper quoted her as saying. “I like to mix high and low with new and old. Sophisticated yet fun. I want to stand out for my unique fashion flare.”
Pennies are an issue at retailers beyond Forever 21.
In New Jersey, a customer of Chipotle Mexican Grill told the Star-Ledger this week that the chain routinely rounds its charges up or down to the nearest nickel, keeping an extra penny on each of three receipts. Restaurants in New York also followed the practice, the newspaper said.
“The idea is simply to limit the possible combinations of change on cash transactions to keep the lines moving quickly in high volume areas,” spokesman Chris Arnold told the paper. Arnold added a new policy allows only for rounding down and adds a line to receipts showing the subtracted cents.