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Pierce Egerton
Pierce Egerton
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Look Out for Price Scanner Errors – More Common Than You Think!

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In the holiday shopping season we all want to stretch our dollars as far as we can. One good way to do that is paying attention at the cash register. Finding an item on sale at a great price is gratifying. But a wary shopper must also make sure they don’t pay more at the register.

North Carolina State officials recently collected over $35,000 in fines from stores throughout the state for excessive price scanning errors according to an announcement last week from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Standards Division.

Officials conduct periodic, unannounced inspections of a business’ price-scanner systems 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 at a later date. Undercharges are also reported, but do not count against a store.

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 rate. Additional penalties may be assessed if the store fails a re-inspection.

Stores can be assessed a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation under the Weights and Measures Act of 1975. Money collected from civil penalties goes to a great cause – it is distributed to school systems statewide.

“Consumers are watching their purchases closely and looking for sales in today’s economy. By checking the accuracy of price-scanning systems in retail stores, we are helping to ensure that when shoppers get to the checkout counter, they get the advertised price.” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler

Consumers can contact the Standards Division at 919-733-3313 to register a complaint.

According to the Standards Division, the following stores paid civil penalties after failed inspections:

  • CVS #5463 at 9805 Rocky River Road, Charlotte, paid a total of $2,600 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. The first inspection in March revealed an error rate of 16 percent, based on a sample lot of 50 randomly selected items. A follow-up inspection in April found an error rate of 4 percent based on 12 overcharges out of a 300-item lot. At that time the store was assessed a $1,020 civil penalty, which it paid. During the third inspection, an error rate of 3 percent was found from a sample lot of 300 items. The store was assessed a second civil penalty of $1,580, which it paid. The store passed a fourth inspection. ?
  • Dollar General #4249 at 8001 Moores Chapel Road, Charlotte, paid a $1,575 civil penalty for excessive price-scanner errors after a failed inspection. The first inspection in May found an error rate of 10 percent, based on five overcharges out of 50 randomly selected items. A follow-up inspection in July found an error rate of 3.67 percent based on 11 overcharges out of 300 randomly selected items. The store passed its third inspection. ?
  • Kangaroo Express #3964 at 935 Charlottetowne Ave., Charlotte, paid $1,224 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. The first inspection in April found an error rate of 38 percent, based on 19 overcharges from 50 randomly selected items. A second inspection in May found an error rate of 4 percent based on 12 overcharges from a lot of 300 random items. The store passed its third inspection.
  • Advance Auto #4910 at 2015 N. Bridge St., Elkin, paid a total of $3,920 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. In May, an inspection found an error rate of 10 percent, based on five overcharges out of 50 randomly selected items. In June, a follow-up inspection found an error rate of 4 percent based on 12 overcharges out of 300 random items. At the time, the store was assessed and paid a civil penalty of $1,935. A third inspection in August found an error rate of 3.67 percent based on 11 overcharges out of 300 random items. The store was assessed a second civil penalty of $1,985.
  • Rite Aid #11544 at 1475 N. Bridge St., Elkin, paid $1,020 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. An initial inspection in May found a 6 percent error rate based on three overcharges in a 50-item lot. A second inspection found a 2.33 percent error rate based on seven overcharges from 300 randomly selected items. ?
  • Dollar General #11135 at 10525 Cleveland Road, Garner, paid $1,770 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. An initial inspection in May revealed an error rate of 6 percent, based on an inspection lot of 50 randomly selected items. A second inspection in July found an error rate of 4.33 percent, based on 13 overcharges in a 300-item lot. ?
  • Dollar General #11435 at 319 U.S. 301 South, Micro (Johnston County), paid a total of $3,800 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. The first inspection in March found an error rate of 12 percent, based on six overcharges out of 100 randomly selected items. In April, a second inspection found an error rate of 3.33 percent based on 10 overcharges out of 300 randomly selected items. The store was assessed and paid a $1,890 civil penalty at that time. A third inspection in June found an error rate of 4 percent based on 12 overcharges in a 300-item lot. The store was assessed a second civil penalty of $1,910. The store passed a fourth inspection. ?
  • Kangaroo Express #3189 at 2270 Statesville Blvd., Salisbury, paid $7,362 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. The first inspection in March revealed an 8 percent error rate, based on four overcharges in a 50-item lot. A second inspection found a 5.67 percent error rate, based on eight overcharges in a 300-item lot. The store was assessed and paid a civil penalty of $2,362. A third inspection in July found an error rate of 6 percent based on 18 overcharges out of 300 randomly selected items. The store was assessed a $5,000 civil penalty at that time. ?
  • Dollar General #8456 at 1130 S. Pollock St., Selma, paid $3,815 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. The first inspection in May revealed a 14 percent error rate, based on seven overcharges in a 50-item lot. In July, a second inspection found a 3.33 percent error rate, based on 10 overcharges in a 300-item lot. The store was assessed and paid a $1,380 civil penalty at the time. In September, a third inspection, found an error rate of 5.67 percent based on 17 overcharges from 300 items. The store was assessed a $2,435 civil penalty.
  • Wal-Mart Supercenter #2058 at 1725 New Hope Church Road, Raleigh, paid $4,910 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. An initial inspection in March revealed an error rate of 7 percent, based on an inspection lot of 100 randomly selected items. A second inspection in April found an error rate of 5.33 percent, based on 16 overcharges in a 300-item lot. The store was assessed and paid a $1,665 civil penalty at the time. A store failed a third inspection in July with an error rate of 4.33 percent on 13 overcharges out of 300 items. The store was assessed a $3,245 civil penalty for that failed inspection. ?
  • Advance Auto #4120 at 1702 Winkle St., Wilkesboro, paid a total of $3,155 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. In March, an inspection found an error rate of 6 percent, based on three overcharges out of 50 randomly selected items. In April, a follow-up inspection found an error rate of 3.67 percent based on 11 overcharges out of 300 random items. At the time, the store was assessed and paid a civil penalty of $1,335. A third inspection in July found an error rate of 3.67 percent based on 11 overcharges out of 300 random items. The store was assessed a second civil penalty of $1,820.