By Gig Conaughton, County of San Diego Communications Office
Cash registers ring, are you listening? Black Friday’s back, sales are glistening! Make sure your shopping is sweet, double check your receipts.
So you’re not accidentally overcharged by faulty cash register price scanners.
OK, so the last part didn’t rhyme, but you get the idea. Overcharging does happen, and the County’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures (AWM) wants to make sure that if you’re shopping, you’re checking your receipts.
Every year, AWM inspects more than 1,500 local businesses, checking price-scanning devices, scales that charge items by weight and other equipment that set prices, to make sure they are charging customers accurately. But even the best businesses have occasional overcharges. Between January and October, almost one out of every 10 stores inspected, 9.54 percent, had overcharge errors, and the average overcharge was $1.85. An extra couple of bucks may not sound alarming, but in the holiday shopping season, even tiny overcharges can add up to make big dents in your wallet or pocketbook.
So check all your receipts and have a merry holiday season. Here are some other tips to help you shop smartly and safely:
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.
•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.
•Download and use the County’s Tell Us Now app to contact Agriculture, Weights and Measures, or call AWM at 1-888-TRUE SCAN (1-888-878-3722) or email to firstname.lastname@example.org to report overcharges you can’t resolve with a store.
For more information, go to Agriculture, Weights and Measure’s Consumer Protection webpage and check out this video about the scanner inspection program.