Consumers are losing $2.5 billion every year because of overcharging, Good Morning America reports. GMA’s price check team investigated a dozen stores in New York, New Jersey and Virginia recently and found widespread overcharging. With inaccurate scanners, inaccurate pricing signs, and clerical error, make sure to check your receipts as you are checking out of stores this holiday season. A few dollars here and few dollars there can add up, and being vigilant can save you money.
One illustrative example of what the price check team found:
…We hit JC Penney and found a stack of men’s caps on sale. We also found men’s underwear for 75 percent off. At checkout, our receipt showed that we had been overcharged. The underwear failed to ring up at 75 percent off. And we were charged two different prices for the exact same cap — $4.97 and $2.97.
It’s almost funny to hear these stories, but for many, especially in this tanking economy, this is no laughing matter. This is no new trend either. In a four-year investigation of 120 Target stores in 30 California counties, 75% of inspectors found overpricing violations. “We found a pattern of overpricing,” said Mark Hanson, a division manager for Sonoma County Weights and Measures.
It is interesting to note, however, that these price check investigations were conducted mostly at general retail stores and not other types of stores like grocery stores or smaller Mom & Pop stores, which may be more accurate.
Weights and Measures inspectors said grocery stores are more accurate than other stores because they’ve had scanner technology the longest. Warehouse stores like Costco do pretty well because their prices rarely fluctuate.
I still think that it’s amazing that, if all of this is error, there is widespread overpricing (as opposed to underpricing). You’d think there would be an even chance of being overcharged as there is of being undercharged, but that doesn’t seem to be the way it is playing out. Check your receipts!