Pittsburgh Consumer Watchdog Wins Case Against Kmart Over Toilet Paper Tax

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local woman sued a big retailer over the price she paid for toilet paper and won.

A judge awarded Mary Bach $100 in damages, plus court costs. She apologized to the judge calling it a “mundane but critical consumer matter.”

With her toilet tissue in tow, Bach entered the Magisterial District Judge’s office in North Versailles Tuesday morning, prepared to plead her case.

“There’s a principle involved,” said Bach, who carried two packs of Angel Soft tissue and receipts from Kmart purchases. “When a merchant is charging sales tax on non-taxable merchandise, somebody has to hold them accountable.”

Bach describes herself as a consumer advocate and careful shopper. She said she paid too much for toilet tissue during two separate trips the Kmart store in North Versailles in April. She said she was charged sales tax and toilet tissue is a non-taxable item in Pennsylvania. Bach says when she told the cashiers what happened, they didn’t reimburse her the difference for the tax.

“There is an error and it should be fixed,” Bach told KDKA’s Lisa Washington. “And when a good customer like me calls it to the attention to the store and they don’t fix it, they’ve got an internal problem.”

This isn’t the first time, Bach told us she filed a suit against Kmart in 2007 and twice in 2009, for the same issue- and she won each time. Bach adds that she bought toilet tissue at five other Kmart stores across Pennsylvania in the past two months and each time she was charged sales tax.

“Lisa, I bought the same toilet tissue products one or the other or both in Easton, in Carlisle, in York, in Shamokin Dam, in Harrisburg. All charged me sales tax, so it was endemic in their system,” she said.

Kmart’s attorney declined to comment, but said, charging sales tax wasn’t intentional, rather a mistake made at the store level.

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