25% of businesses checked had pricing errors—and customers were over twice as likely to be over-charged than under-charged
March 3, 2011 (San Diego)--The San Diego County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures (AWM) is reminding county residents to double-check all shopping receipts to make sure they’re not being overcharged by faulty cash register price scanners. Recent county inspections show that price-scanning errors are common, and can be costly for consumers.
AWM Director Robert Atkins said the department, which protects consumers by inspecting thousands of businesses and price-scanning machines each year, typically reminds county residents to double-check receipts during high-shopping days such as the December holidays. But Atkins said the reminder was particularly important now, as rising gas prices and the still-slow economic recovery threaten to make it harder for local families to live within budgets.
“In the last seven months,” Atkins said, “our inspectors have checked the scanned prices of more than 18,000 items at more than 1,100 businesses and found that one-quarter of those businesses --- 25 percent --- had pricing errors. We also found that customers were more than twice as likely to be overcharged as undercharged, and that there was $3.38 in overcharges for every $1 in undercharges.”
County officials said consumers could help protect themselves by taking simple, but important steps.
• Always verify receipts and immediately notify store management of any price discrepancies.
• Take sales advertisements when shopping.
• Know that stores cannot legally charge more than their lowest advertised, posted or quoted price.
AWM officials said people could file complaints by contacting AWM at 1-888-TRUE SCAN (1-888-878-3722) or at http://www.sdcawm.org.
AWM issued the public safety advisory during National Weights and Measures Week, which runs from March 1 through March 7, and commemorates the signing of the first weights and measures law by John Adams, the second president in U.S. history, in 1799.