‘Every little cent counts’ – Raleigh shoppers react after Family Dollar stores fined thousands for scanner errors

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Two Family Dollars in Raleigh are facing thousands of dollars in fines for overcharging on items, according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Standards Division.

The state regularly inspects stores to see if the price listed on shelves matches what shows up at the register. If more than 2 percent of items in an inspection cost more at the register than the price advertised, the store gets a warning. An inspector later comes back and scans more items until the store passes an inspection.

“They should put the right price on the shelves instead of having people thinking it’s that right price and it’s not,” said shopper Tracy-Yonna Smith.

According to state inspectors, the Family Dollar on Raleigh Boulevard had more than 100 overcharges out of 1,550 items. That was over the course of six inspections. The Family Dollar on Wilmington Street had 55 overcharges on 650 items during three inspections.

“It could be a penny off. We would count that as incorrect. Or it could be $20 off if you’re buying batteries or something for instance,” said Stephen Benajmin, Director of the Standards Division. “So to us, the amount it’s off doesn’t matter. It’s that it’s wrong.”

Zoe Pinkney shops at the Wilmington Street Family Dollar about three times a week. She said the price mismatches can add up.

“Now with all the pandemic and everything, every little cent counts to a lot of us out here,” Pinkney said.

Benjamin said the state does roughly 2,000 inspections a year. He said in 2018-2019, there were 142 failed inspections for a rejection rate of 7 percent. For 2019-2020, he said there were 500 failures for a rejection rate of 29 percent. He said there was an approximately 10-week pause during the start of the pandemic.

Not all those failures resulted in penalties, so long as the store passed during the follow-up inspection.

Benjamin said the number of penalties for the first half of 2021 seems to be up. He said stores are required to make the display showing scanned prices visible to customers. He recommends people check their receipts and if they notice a difference to let the store know and/or report it to the Standards Division.

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