FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2012
Stephen Benjamin, director
NCDA&CS Standards Division
Five stores pay fines for price-scanning errors
RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Standards Division has collected fines from stores in Charlotte, Clemmons, Gastonia, Mount Airy and Wilkesboro, for excessive price-scanning errors.
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. Undercharges are also reported, but do not count against a store.
“Consumers are watching their purchases closely and looking for sales in today’s economy,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “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. Consumers can contact our Standards Division at 919-733-3313 to register a complaint.”
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.
Following are stores that paid civil penalties in the end of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 after failed inspections:
- CVS #3185 at 1533 South Blvd., Charlotte, paid a total of $9,015 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors after five failed inspections. The first inspection in May 2011 revealed an error rate of 10 percent, based on a sample lot of 50 randomly selected items. A follow-up inspection in June found an error rate of 5 percent based on 15 overcharges out of a 300-item lot. At that time the store was assessed a $1,485 civil penalty, which it paid. During a 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 $1,265, which it paid. In November, inspectors found a 7.33 percent error rate based on 22 overcharges from a 300-item lot. The store was assessed and paid a $2,635 civil penalty. Inspectors went to the store for a fifth inspection in January, where 34 overcharges in a 300-item lot were found for an 11.33 percent error rate. The store was assessed a $3,630 civil penalty, which it paid. The store faces another inspection.
- Advance Auto #4880 at 2551 Lewisville Clemmons Road, Clemmons, paid a total of $2,225 in civil penalties for excessive price scanner errors. In September 2011, inspectors found a 14 percent error rate for seven overcharges in a 50-item lot. A follow-up inspection in October found a 6 percent error rate. The store was assessed and paid a civil penalty of $1,290. A third inspection in December found an error rate of 2.33 percent, based on seven overcharges out of 300 random items. The store was assessed and paid a second civil penalty of $935. The store passed a fourth inspection.
- Wal-Mart #5298 at 223 N. Myrtle School Road, Gastonia, paid a $4,365 civil penalty for excessive price errors. In January, inspectors found a 3 percent error rate in a 100-item lot. A follow-up inspection found a 3.33 percent error rate. The store faces another inspection.
- Dollar General #11656 at 1900 S. Main St., Mount Airy, paid $7,140 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors after four failed inspections. The first inspection in September 2011 found an error rate of 12 percent, based on six overcharges from 50 randomly selected items. A second inspection in November found an error rate of 3.33 percent, based on 10 overcharges from a lot of 300 random items. A civil penalty of $1,290 was assessed and paid at that time. A third inspection in January found a 2.67 percent error rate from a 300-item lot. A second civil penalty of $2,105 was assessed and paid. A fourth inspection in March revealed an error rate of 3.33 percent, and the store was assessed a $3,745 civil penalty. The store faces another inspection.
- Tractor Supply #1458 at 1834 Winkler St., Wilkesboro, paid $885 in civil penalties for excessive price-scanner errors. In January, an inspection found an error rate of 3 percent, based on three overcharges out of 100 randomly selected items. In February, a follow-up inspection found an error rate of 2.33 percent based on seven overcharges out of 300 random items. The store faces another inspection.
- 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.