Wednesday, April 17, 2024

State fines area dollar stores, Walmart for price-scan overcharges

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Standards Division announced shops in 33 counties remitted more than $300,000 in fines. Three stores were cited in Brunswick County. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Fifty-two retail stores statewide, including three in the greater Port City region, paid fines to a state agency for excessive price-scanning errors in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Standards Division announced shops in 33 counties remitted more than $300,000 in fines. Three stores were cited in Brunswick County.

Unannounced inspections of price-scanner systems are held regularly to ensure accuracy in prices advertised in stores match to registers upon checkout. The division said roughly a quarter of inspections fail.

Inspectors conduct followups when stores have a 2% error rate on overcharges (undercharges are also reported but do not count against a store). Reinspections are held every 60 days and penalties are calculated if a follow-up inspection doesn’t pass muster.

Two dollar stores and a Walmart failed price-scanning inspections in Brunswick County.

The Dollar General in Calabash (89 Hickman Road) paid $2,565 in penalties. Upon the first examination conducted in September 2022, a 16% error rate was found in consideration of eight overcharges detected in a 50-item lot. The error rate fell to 9.67% based on 29 overcharges in a 300-item lot and passed inspection in December at a 1.33% error rate.

Family Dollar in Leland (1411 Lanvale Road Northeast) also was charged $1,785 in fines. October’s inspection clocked in at a 10% rate on five overcharges in a 50-item lot, which dropped to 5.67% on 17 overcharges in a 300-item lot in November. The store has yet to be reinspected.

Perhaps one of the most popular shopping facilities in Leland is the Walmart Supercenter at 1114 New Pointe Blvd., also failing price-scanning inspections. It paid $1,425 in fines after inspections from August determined there was a 5% error on five overcharges in a 100-item lot.

It decreased to 2.67% in September but then ticked up in November, failing again with an error rate of 3.33% based on 10 overcharges in a 300-item lot. It, too, will be reinspected. 

The division’s latest report shows a Dollar General in Moore County had to dole out the largest amount in fines, $22,995, for six failed inspections since November 2021. The least amount paid was $390 from a 7-Eleven in Union County.

“Overcharges cost consumers, so we remain vigilant in inspecting stores in order to protect consumers,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a release.

Troxler suggests buyers always check receipts and make sure they complement prices displayed on the shelves.

Consumers can file complaints about scanner errors by calling 984-236-4750.


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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