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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2007


Contact: Stephen Benjamin, director
NCDA&CS Standards Division
(919) 733-3313

Stores pay fines for pricing errors

RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Standards Division recently collected fines from eight stores in North Carolina for excessive price-scanning errors. Civil penalties were assessed against stores in Clinton, Smithfield, Conover, Welcome and Gastonia.

"Our inspectors routinely check the accuracy of price-scanning systems in retail stores to ensure fairness in business transactions, which benefits both the customer and the business," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "Consumers expect to pay the advertised prices for items in stores, and businesses have an equally strong interest in making sure their registers are ringing up the correct prices. Consumers are always welcome to report price-scanner errors to our Standards Division at (919) 733-3313. We do respond to consumer complaints in addition to our normal inspections."

The NCDA&CS Standards Division conducts periodic, unannounced inspections of a business' price-scanner system 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. Penalties are assessed if a store fails the follow-up inspection.

  • Auto Zone #2486 at 207 Northeast Blvd., Clinton, paid $2,055 in civil penalties after Standards Division inspectors found price-scanner errors during two separate inspections. An initial inspection in January found an error rate of 14 percent based on seven overcharges from an inspection lot of 50 randomly selected items. A follow-up inspection in March found 10 errors from 300 items, an error rate of 3.33 percent.

  • Eckerd #2164 of 104 North Brightleaf Blvd., Smithfield, paid $840 in civil penalties after two inspections found price-scanning errors. During an initial inspection in January, an error rate of 8 percent was found based on 4 overcharges from an inspection lot of 50 randomly selected items. A follow-up inspection in March found an error rate of 4.33 percent based on 13 overcharges out of 300 items.
  • Flowers Auto Parts at 813 Conover Blvd., Conover, paid $840 in civil penalties after Standards Division inspectors found price-scanning errors on two occasions. An initial inspection in December 2006 found an error rate of 12 percent based on six overcharges from an inspection lot of 50 items. A follow-up inspection in February found 19 overcharges from an inspection lot of 300 randomly selected items, an error rate of 6.33 percent.
  • The Standards Division collected a $780 civil penalty from Food Lion #554 at 6455 Old Highway 52, Welcome, after inspectors found price-scanner errors during two inspections. The initial inspection in February found an error rate of 3 percent based on three overcharges from an inspection lot of 100 randomly selected items. A follow-up inspection in March found nine errors from 300 items, an error rate of 3 percent.
  • The Wal-Mart #5298 of 223 North Myrtle School Road, Gastonia, paid $2,145 after a February inspection found three overcharges from an inspection lot of 100 items, a 3 percent error rate. A follow-up inspection in March found eight errors from a lot of 300 items, an error rate of 2.67 percent.

Additionally, Food Lion #554, Wal-Mart #5298, Auto Zone #2486 and Eckerd #2164 will be subject to additional 300-items scans about every 60 days from the date of the previous inspection until these stores can meet the 2 percent or less overcharge error rate.

Each store could have been 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 is distributed to school systems statewide.

-lpm-

 

NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Brian Long, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047