CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dozens of North Carolina stores, including several in the Charlotte area, were fined by the state over price scanning errors found during inspections that were charging customers too much.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Standards Division levied fines to 61 stores from 32 counties statewide because they were overcharging customers for items at checkout. Stores in the following Charlotte-area counties were fined: Catawba, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly, Union and Watauga.
The state conducts periodic, unannounced inspections at stores across North Carolina to check for accuracy between advertised prices and what customers pay at the register. If a store has a more than 2% error rate on overcharges, store management is notified and a stricter follow-up inspection will be scheduled.
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Stores that fail price accuracy tests on a follow-up inspection are subjected to a fine. In addition to fines, stores will be subject to re-inspection every 60 days from the last inspection until meeting the 2% or less threshold for overcharges. If a store fails a re-inspection, additional penalties may be assessed. State leaders say many of the price scan errors are due to staffing issues facing companies.
"Overcharges cost consumers so we remain vigilant in inspecting stores in order to protect consumers," Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said. "It is always a good practice for consumers to check their receipts as well as the price on the shelf to make sure that they are paying the correct amount and alert managers if they are not correct."
A Dollar General store on The Plaza in Charlotte paid $13,745 in fines after inspectors found a 40% error rate last November. Subsequent inspections found error rates of 23.67%, 16.33%, 8% and 8.67%, respectively. The store will be reinspected.
The Walmart on North Tryon Street paid $9,785 in fines after an initial inspection last October found a 7% error rate in a 100-item test. Subsequent inspections found similar error rates before the store passed inspection in June. The Indian Trail Walmart was issued $11,745 in fines after a 4% error rate as found in August of 2021. The store was reinspected multiple times and passed in May.
The most recent round of fines wasn't the first time stores in the Charlotte region have been caught overcharging customers. Seven stores were fined in the first quarter of 2022, including multiple Walmart and Dollar General locations. In total, 42 stores were fined earlier this year, according to state officials.
Consumers who would like to file a complaint about price scanner errors can call the Standards Division at 984-236-4750.