Are You Being Overcharged When You Shop?

County officials are urging consumers to check their receipts for pricing errors, after releasing a list of overcharging offenders.

What’s the county Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures done for you lately? Well, it’s probably saved you some money at the checkout stand by keeping an eye out for pricing errors made by scanners. And these days, a .

Consumers are two times more likely to be overcharged than undercharged when businesses make pricing errors, making it important for people to double-check their shopping receipts, San Diego County officials announced Thursday.

A quarter of more than 1,100 businesses inspected during the last seven months had pricing errors, according to a statement from Robert Atkins, director of the county Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures (AWM).

In Santee, over just more than two years, seven pricing errors at six shops have been caught overcharging by the County, and fines were levied against the owner (see list of fined businesses below).

The AWM inspects thousands of businesses and price-scanning machines each year. During the last seven months, inspectors from the Scanner Awareness Program checked the scanned prices of more than 18,000 items at more than 1,100 businesses and found there were $3.38 in overcharges for every $1 in undercharges, Atkins said.

Nancy Appel, the AWM’s supervising inspector, says there are a number of ways pricing errors can occur, including the computer database not being updated to reflect sale prices and prices being entered incorrectly into the computer database.

Consumers are encouraged to talk to store managers or employees before leaving the store if they believe there has been a pricing error. People may also file a complaint by calling 888-TRUE-SCAN (888-878-3722).

Businesses fined between Jan. 1, 2009, and March 1, 2011, for pricing errors:

Store Fine Date (10041 Mission Gorge Rd.)-Fine #2 $250 2/28/11 (11007 Woodside Ave.) $100 9/27/10 (9714 Mission Gorge Rd.) $100 9/22/10 $150 7/15/10 (10219 Mast Blvd.) $200 6/02/10 (9361 Mission Gorge Rd.) $100 4/27/09 (9720 Mission Gorge Rd.) $600 1/06/09

Updated March 8, 2010 to change the previous Smart & Final listing in the table to Henry's Farmers Market, which is more correct. Smart & Final was listed in the data because Henry's is a subsidiary of Smart & Final.

Kathy March 07, 2011 at 10:00 PM
I have been over charged several times at Walmart and Target. If possible try not to shop alone, have the person who is with you, load the merchandise while you are watching the register. If you have to shop alone, then review your receipt before leaving the store. Michaels is very sneaking in their advertising items on sale. They often place the sale price tag in front of items that are similar to the actual sale item. I always make sure that the description, small print on the sale tag, is for that actual item. I have also found that they will not remove the sale tag from in front of the item, after the sale has expired, and the item will ring up at full price. My suggestion is stand your ground, if they forgot to remove the sales tag, their mistake and your gain. I don't think that most retailers intentionally try to over charge, but you still need to be aware of what you are being charged.
Mary B March 08, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Looks like there is an error in your store list. There is no Smart & Final on Mission Gorge. The address you are showing is actually for Henry's Farmers Market.
Peter Anderson March 08, 2011 at 07:11 PM
It's a small error Mary in that the company that owns Smart & Final also owns Henry's and very shortly will own Sprouts too and Henry's name will go away.
Steven Bartholow March 08, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Thanks for the catch Mary, and for the clarification Peter. I was confused by that as well, and decided to just go with the County data; not having a business background, sometimes these subsidiary companies catch me off guard. I'll clarify that within the story. Thanks all.


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