TODAY   |  July 24, 2013

Rossen Reports: JC Penney sales misleading, employees say

Two JC Penney employees allege that some of the retailer’s sales do not really offer bargains, because the regular prices have been inflated. NBC’s Jeff Rossen reports.

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>>> this morning on rossen reports, a warning for bargain shoppers. is your favorite retailer misleading you with big sales? today jeff rossen has reported on this before. he is back with a new development.

>> we all love a good sale but it may not be the price you think. after your story aired store insiders e-mailed me speaking out against one of the country's most popular retailers and what they say may change the way you shop.

>> reporter: the allure of the sale. prices too good to pass up and we eat it up.

>> we love a sale.

>> buy, buy, buy.

>> everybody is looking for bargain.

>> but now these jcpenney employees say some of those amazing bargains aren't bargains at all.

>> it's trickery.

>> these customers think they're get a good deal.

>> and they're not.

>> a few months ago jcpenney changed it's pricing model from every day low prices to sales. but these employees say jcpenney was just artificially inflating prices and then putting the same items on sale. gina stone said she did it when she worked at a jcpenney in virginia.

>> all of a sudden the rack of $7 shorts became $14 and 50% off.

>> what did you say to your bosses when they asked you to do this?

>> they said it was coming down from corporate in texas.

>> were you comfortable doing it?

>> no.

>> she quit the store after six months. bob still works for jcpenney at a store in florida.

>> i saw a lot of pricing teams going through the store, raising the prices, mostly doubling towels and clothing.

>> double the price ?

>> that's right. they would go on sale but not always for 50% off. not only was it a fake sale but they were paying more than previously.

>> reporter: look what we funned at jcpenney . regular price , and sale price $649.99. but we checked with the manufactur manufacturer. the sale price is the same as the full price .

>> how widespread do you think this is.

>> very widespread.

>> she is a marketed professor at nyu and says many retailers use those sale signs to lure us in.

>> you feel smart. you feel happy. you feel you got a great deal.

>> do you think they're playing on our emotions?

>> the stores are completely playing on our emotions.

>> in a statement jcpenney told us all the items put on sale must be previously sold at regular price for a reasonable period of time and it's pricing model is common in the retail industry.

>> i don't think what they're doing -- it's to their detriment.

>> why did you e-mail me and decide to come forward. you could lose your job for this.

>> because i thought it was wrong and the public had a right to know. i don't think they'll survive if they keep doing this.

>> so how do you know when a sale is really a good deal? here's the take away. before you guy anything, ask the store clerk was this product ever sold at the regular price ? and how long has it been on sale? if it's been on sale for awhile, that's a major red flag . and always comparison shop. the sale price at one store may actually be cheaper at another store.

>>> good advice. thank you very