SUPERVISOR DIANNE JACOB
DATE: August 8, 2007
CONTACT: Steve Schmidt, 619-531-4766 or 619-206-9108
GETTING THE PRICE RIGHT FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPERS
SAN DIEGO — Shoppers may be charged the wrong price for items in at least one out of three stores they enter, according to price scanner inspectors with the County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures.
“Back-to-school shopping is the second busiest shopping season of the year after the December holidays and people are rushed, but they must take time to check their receipts,” said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “Consumers have the right to be charged the price that was posted or advertised.”
In 2006, County inspectors scanned 17,396 items at 555 locations and approximately 43 percent of those locations overcharged the consumer on at least one item. In the next few weeks, the County will focus inspections on retailers carrying school items, however with hundreds of locations and ever-changing prices there can never be enough inspectors to do the job alone. The County program uses the stickers, notice posting, and the website to enlist the help of consumers.
“Consumers must be vigilant to protect themselves,” Jacob said. “If there are violations, shoppers should notify store management before they leave the store or report the violations to the County.”
Shoppers can also file a complaint online at www.sdcawm.org if they are overcharged or they can call the County’s toll-free number, 1-888-TRUE SCAN (1-888-878-3722). Inspectors typically investigate consumer complaints within 24 hours.
Scanner inspection programs are not required by state law. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors passed the Consumer Confidence Protection Act in 1999, making this County one of the first in California to establish an inspection program. To this day, only 19 of the 58 California counties have similar inspection programs.
County inspectors often participate with prosecutors in multi-county investigations. In the last 24 months, seven lawsuits have been filed against major retailers because of price scanner violations. Lesser violations are handled through civil administrative procedures that include the potential for fines. Consumers can view retailer violations and lawsuits by visiting http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/awm/violations_scanners.html.