Shopping on a budget is challenging enough, and cutting coupons can be frustrating and time-consuming. That’s why so many bargain hunters opt to shop at retailers like Walmart and Dollar General, both of which already have lower prices than their competitors. But recently, both of these big-name brands have come under fire, and it might have you reaching for your latest receipt. Read on to find out why both Walmart and Dollar General are facing backlash and which state’s stores are in the hot seat.
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These discount retailers are often in the news, and sometimes it’s for less than pleasant reasons. On July 11, city officials in Euclid, Ohio shut down two Dollar Generals due to “critical safety issues,” CBS-affiliate Cleveland 19 News reported, including lack of access to electrical panels, blocked aisles, and inaccessible fire extinguishers. In June, the U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also cited Dollar General stores in two states for “serious hazards,” such as padlocked and blocked emergency exits.
Walmart has made headlines as well and was recently sued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on June 28 as a result of alleged money transfer fraud. On July 5, the big-box retailer faced more legal trouble, this time thanks to a class-action suit filed by Jeremy Guzman in Illinois. According to Top Class Actions, Guzman claims that Walmart is falsely marketing its Great Value-brand mayonnaise as a “healthier” option.
Dollar General and Walmart may have to shell out cash for lawsuits and fines, but the latest incidents could’ve affected your wallet instead.
Living in the digital age, we pretty much trust that when a barcode is scanned, the computer registers the right price. We pay, and we carry on about our day. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as exhibited by recent price-scanner errors at large retailers.
According to an Aug. 3 press release from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA & CS), 61 retail stores in North Carolina have been fined a total of $352,420 for overcharging customers during the second quarter of 2022. Walmart and Dollar General accounted for the majority of the penalties, owing a combined total of $257,190.
Best Life reached out to both Walmart and Dollar General for comment on the price-scanner issues, but neither retailer responded before publication.
Of the 61 stores, price-scanning errors were detected at 27 Dollar Generals, 19 Walmarts, six Family Dollars, four Advance Autos, two Targets, one Petsmart, one Pet Supplies Plus, and one Compare Foods (a supermarket chain).
The inspections are carried out by the NCDA & CS periodically and are unannounced, according to the press release. Inspectors scan items at the register to check that they match the prices advertised, and if a store has an error rate that’s over two percent, a follow-up visit is required. If a store fails during the second inspection, that is when penalties are put in place. The store will continue to be inspected at 60-day intervals until they satisfy the less-than-two-percent error rate.
“Our standards division continues to see a significant increase in stores with price scanner errors, as many stores continue to deal with staffing shortages,” Steve Troxler, Agriculture Commissioner, stated in the press release. “Overcharges cost consumers so we remain vigilant in inspecting stores in order to protect consumers.”
In April, 42 stores in North Carolina were slapped with fines due to their excessive errors, including four Walmarts, four Dollar Generals, two Advance Autos, and one Ingles Market (a regional supermarket chain). As a result, and considering the more recent errors, the NCDA & CS continues to stress the importance of giving your receipts a once-over.
“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,” Troxler said in the press release.
If you ever find that you’ve been overcharged after you leave the store, you can generally bring the item and your receipt back to have the price matched and receive a refund. If you live in North Carolina, the NCDA & CS also states that you can file a complaint about scanner errors by calling the Standards Division at 984-236-4750.