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Let the shopping — and receipt-checking — begin!

Black Friday and the holiday season mean the shopping-est time of the year is back. The County wants to remind shoppers to double-check all receipts to protect themselves from being overcharged by faulty cash register price scanners.

It can definitely happen. Every year, the County’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures inspects thousands of local businesses, checking price-scanning devices, scales that charge items by weight, and the other equipment that set prices, to make sure they are charging customers accurately.

Last year, one out of every eight businesses inspected, 12.5 percent, had overcharging errors and the average overcharge was $2.28. By itself, that’s not much — about enough to buy a cup of coffee, a box of pasta or a bag of chicken-flavor, chew-stick ferret treats.

But add a few overcharges up and you can be talking some real cash!

So remember to double-check your receipts. And read these other tips to you help shop smart and safely this holiday season.

Protect Against Overcharging:

  • Always verify receipts and immediately notify store management of any price discrepancies.
  • Stores are required to display the price of an item, as you are buying it,  before the transaction is complete. Watch the display screen as your items are scanned.
  • Take sales advertisements with you when shopping to verify prices.
  • Know that stores cannot legally charge more than their lowest advertised, posted or quoted price.

Shop Smart:

  • Plan ahead. Start watching for store sale fliers, flea markets, garage sales, clearance sales, etc.
  • Make a list of what you need.
  • Comparison shop with at least five different sources for the best values.
  • Don’t buy everything at once. Establish a spending plan and timetable to buy what you need over several weeks or months to take full advantage of future sales and true bargains.
  • Call Agriculture, Weights and Measures at 1-888-TRUE SCAN (1-888-878-3722) or email to to report overcharges you can’t resolve with store.

For more information, go to Agriculture, Weights and Measure’s Consumer Protection webpage and check out this video about the scanner inspection program.

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