Watch Your Receipts

October 21, 2018

 

With the busy holiday shopping season just around the corner, I was reminded just this morning at a local store of a problem in today’s retail word.  That problem is scanning errors, or when an item rings up at a higher price at the register than what the price tag or sign on the shelf had indicated.

 

This is not a new problem.  It is my understanding that it has been an issue since electronic scanners went into widespread use years ago.  Many of you are likely keeping a watchful eye out for these errors whenever you go shopping, but I know when I am in a hurry that I often don’t think twice about looking at my receipt as I hurry on to my next stop.

 

I also know people who have decided to not shop at a certain store any more due to numerous pricing issues at that store.  It can be a huge trust issue for a consumer. 

 

By no means do I mean to point the finger at your local cashier or stock person either… or even management.  In my nine years in retail management, the first day of a new ad or a new sale was usually quite challenging.  Stores, like the chain drug store I managed, can carry hundreds to thousands of items in them.  Varying sizes, flavors/scents, and limited-edition packaging often result in several different bar codes for the same item which can prove to be very complicated.  The opportunity for human error is huge. 

 

I can honestly say that it never intentionally overcharged a customer for an item, and I don’t know any manager in their right mind that would do so on purpose.  It is horrible business.  Once a customer brought an error to my attention, I always responded quickly and appropriately.

 

My intent today is to remind you that you as a consumer have rights in this situation under Michigan law.  Specifically, under The Shopping Reform and Modernization Act, or Scanner Law.  This law applies to both big box stores and small local establishments.   

 

The Michigan Attorney General has a detailed Consumer Alert on this topic that can be found at  https://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-359-81903_20942-134114--,00.html.  I encourage you to read this in its entirety, but I have listed some of the key points of the law below. 

  • For this law to apply, you must have been charged more than the displayed price of the item, the transaction must have been completed, and you must have a receipt listing the item you purchased as well as the price you paid. 

  • The item does not need a price sticker directly on it to be covered.  The price on the shelf or display is sufficient.

  • The customer must notify the seller of the error within 30 days of the transaction, this can be done either in person or in writing.  In most situations, simply taking the receipt and the item to the store’s customer service counter before you will do just fine.  

  • The seller technically has two days to respond to you.

  • The customer is entitled to a refund of the difference between the price charged and the price displayed, plus a "bonus" or “bounty” of ten times the difference. 

  • The "bonus" or “bounty” has a minimum of $1.00 and a maximum of $5.00. 

 

If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, please be courteous with the store employee when you bring the error to their attention.  More than likely it is not his or her fault.  But please do hold the store accountable and request a refund for the difference and the "bonus" or “bounty”. 

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