Scanner errors cost Brunswick and Columbus county residents more at register

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) – Consumers may want to pay closer attention at the checkout line after 61 stores in 32 counties were fined for excessive price scanner errors, including in Brunswick and Columbus counties.

Four stores in the Cape Fear were fined for charging more than the price shown on shelves.

According to Joseph Pitchford with The North Carolina Department of Agriculture Consumer Services’ Standards Division, the problem seems to be getting worst.

“Inflation and staffing problems, a lot of these places are having,” he said. “The prices are updated in the computer automatically and at a high rate due to inflation.”

The department’s job is to protect consumers and keep a close eye on the public’s behalf.

“So what you’re seeing is a price disconnect in the system from the price advertised,” he said.

Below are the following civil penalties recorded in the second quarter of 2022 in the Cape Fear:

 

  • (Brunswick) Dollar General at 8 Bell Swamp Road, Winnabow has paid $3,840 in fines. An initial inspection in April found a 78-percent error rate based on 39 overcharges in a 50-item lot. A subsequent inspection in May found a 15.33-percent error rate. The store will be re-inspected.

 

  • (Columbus) Dollar General at 124 E. Sam Potts Highway, Lake Waccamaw has paid $4,235 in fines. An initial inspection in January found a 20-percent error rate based on 10 overcharges in a 50-item lot. Subsequent inspections in February and April found 4-percent and 10-percent error rates, respectively. The store passed inspection in June.
  • (Columbus) Family Dollar at 127 E. Strawberry Blvd., Chadbourn has paid $3,285 in fines. An initial inspection in February found a 12-percent error rate based on six overcharges in a 50-item lot. A subsequent inspection in March found an 8-percent error rate. The store passed inspection in May.
  • (Columbus) Walmart at 200 Columbus Corners, Whiteville has paid $1,665 in fines. An initial inspection in January found an 8-percent error rate based on eight overcharges in a 100-item lot. A subsequent inspection in February found a 4-percent error rate. The store passed inspection in April.

The department stops by stores unannounced to inspect price-scanner systems to check accuracy and compare prices scanned with prices labelled on shelves, according to Pitchford.

“You don’t get a ton of wiggle room in terms of errors you are allowed to have, it’s about protecting the consumer,” he said. “Shoppers should make it habit to check they’re paying the same amount advertised, if not, alert a store manager.”

According to Pichford, a store with more than a 2 percent error rate on overcharges will require a more intensive follow-up inspection at a later date.

Penalties come about when a store fails a follow-up inspection and will face re-inspection every 60 days from the last inspection until the error rate is down to 2 percent, or lower.

All penalties paid to the state go back to the county school system where the fines were accessed.

Those who discover or experience scanner errors can report it to the Standards Division at 984-236-4750.

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