Eleven stores in the Triad and northwest North Carolina — including two in Forsyth County — are among 61 states required to pay fines for what state agriculture officials consider “excessive price-scanner errors.”
The Standards Division of the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services disclosed the civil penalties for its second quarter report.
There are three for Walmart and four Dollar General locations with one penalty each for Advance Auto, Family Dollar, PetSmart and Pet Supplies Plus.
“Our standards department continues to see a significant increase in stores with price scanner errors, as many stores continue to face staffing shortages,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement.
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By comparison, the department fined five regional stores — including three Dollar General locations — out of 22 statewide in the first quarter.
3501 S. in Winston-Salem. The Family Dollar location on Main St. was fined $10,000, while the Walmart at 4550 Kester Mill Road in Winston-Salem was fined $7,595.
An investigation of a Family Dollar store in November found a 30% defect rate based on 15 overcharges in a lot of 50 items, the department said.
Re-checks determined an error rate of 14.7% in January, as well as 6.7% in March and 13% in May. The store is subject to additional re-inspection, the department said.
For a Walmart store, a department investigation in March found a 12% defect rate based on 12 overcharges in a 100-item lot.
Re-checks determined a 4.3% error rate in April and a 3.3% rate in June. The store is subject to additional re-inspection.
The largest of the 11 fines in the area, $11,375, involves the Dollar General location at 103 Willow St. in Yadkinville.
An initial inspection in October determined a 30% defect rate based on 15 overcharges in a 50-item lot.
The re-examination found an error rate of 16.3% in November, along with 4.3% in January, 9.3% in April and 8% in May. The store is subject to additional re-inspection.
Other price-scanning penalties include:
* Advance Auto at 947 S. State St. in Yadkinville: $8,760 fine.
* Dollar General at 435 NC 49 S. in Asheboro: $8,505 fine.
* Walmart at 3121 Garden Road, Burlington: $5,000 fine
* Dollar General at 1620 Way St. in Reedsville: $5,000 fine.
* Dollar General at 5430 Samet Drive in High Point: $4,185 fine.
* PetSmart at 265 Eastchester Drive in High Point: $1,545 fine.
* Walmart at 1422 E. Dixie Drive in Asheboro: $1,200 fine.
* Pet Supplies Plus at 2575 NC 105, Suite 10, Boone: $750 fine.
Consumers may file complaints with the department at (984) 236-4750.
“Higher fees cost the consumer, so we’re careful about checking stores in order to protect the consumer,” Troxler said.
“It’s always good practice for customers to check their receipts, as well as the price on the shelf to make sure they’re paying the correct amount and alert the manager if they’re not,” Troxler said.
The department conducts periodic, unannounced inspections of price-scanner systems at businesses to verify accuracy between advertised prices and the prices ringing at the register.
If a store has an error of more than 2% on overcharges, inspectors discuss the findings with the store manager and then conduct a more intensive follow-up inspection.
Penalties are assessed if a shop fails compliance checks. In addition to fines paid, the store is subject to re-inspection every 60 days until it meets a 2% or lower defect rate since the last inspection.
Additional penalties may be assessed if a store fails to re-verify.
Lower charges are also reported, but don’t count against the store.