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home : news : law enforcement March 28, 2023

1/30/2023 10:19:00 AM
There oughta be a law against that. There is!

Wayne Howard

Surely you've had it happen a time or two--or perhaps more.  Items in stores often get moved to locations other than where they are supposed to be. The shelf label may read one price--but the register rings another. 

One way to be sure you're not being overcharged is to check the UPC on shelf labels and see if it matches the one on the product.  Another is to watch carefully as items are being rung up.  Yet another is always to check your receipts.

The errors may not be intentional: another customer may have moved an item to a location intended for something else.  Sometimes, somebody failed to get the proper price into the computers.  In any case, it's the store's responsibility to make certain that the price on the shelf and the price you pay are the same.

The NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Standards Division has collected fines from 52 stores in 33 counties because of excessive price-scanner errors.

“Our Standards Division continues to see about a quarter of all price scanner inspections fail and many stores are failing multiple inspections,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Overcharges cost consumers so it is always a good practice to check your receipt as well as the price on the shelf to make sure you are paying the correct amount and alert managers if the prices don’t match.”

The department conducts periodic, unannounced inspections of price-scanner systems in businesses to check for accuracy between the prices advertised and the prices that ring up at the register. If a store has more than a 2-percent error rate on overcharges, inspectors discuss the findings with the store manager and conduct a more intensive follow-up inspection later. Undercharges are also reported, but do not count against a store. Consumers who would like to file a complaint about scanner errors they encounter, can call the Standards Division at 984-236-4750.

Penalties are assessed if a store fails the follow-up inspection. In addition to the penalties paid, the store will be subject to re-inspection every 60 days from the last inspection until it meets the 2-percent-or-less error rate. Additional penalties may be assessed if a store fails another reinspection.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, of the 52 stores who were fined for failing a second test due to overcharges, 21 were Dollar General stores, 14 were Family Dollar stores, 5 were Walmarts and three were Target stores.

The only store in Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston & Cleveland counties to be fined for overcharges during the fourth quarter was the Dollar General at 3131 NC16 south in Newton, who were ordered to pay $2,040 in penalties for a second failed inspection. An initial inspection in September 2022 found an error rate of 18 percent based on nine overcharges in a 50-item lot. A follow-up inspection in October found an error rate of 9.67 percent based on 29 overcharges in a 300-item lot. The store passed inspection in December with no errors.

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