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Holiday bargain may be a bust

SAN DIEGO – With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, it is important for consumers to be aware of the prices they are being charged at the cash register. This year, the County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures scanned over 22,000 items at 1,592 locations, and found that 25 percent of the stores inspected for pricing accuracy had errors. Shoppers were 2.6 times more likely to be overcharged than undercharged on purchased items. That equates to an overcharge/ undercharge ratio of $4.50 overcharged for every $1 undercharged.

“Every dollar counts these days, so you should know the price of the item you’re buying before you checkout and bring the sales ad,” said Robert Atkins, County Sealer of Weights and Measures. “Consumers should not pay anything more than the lowest advertised, posted or quoted price. We are protecting consumers through complaint investigations and routine inspections. In the last year, the percentage of violations has gone down due to strict enforcement and education of businesses.”

A county ordinance requires stores convicted of overcharging more than one dollar on a single item or overcharging on two or more items to post a “Notice of Penalty for Failed Inspection” at each store entrance for ten days. In 1999, the Consumer Confidence Protection Act was adopted by the County Board of Supervisors, which requires a Notice to Consumers be posted at each point-of-sale station notifying them of their rights and how to file a complaint. To view a list of businesses with overcharging violations, visit

Tips for shoppers:

• Stores are legally required to position a price display so that it is visible to you when items are being scanned.

• Look for the “Attention Consumers” yellow sticker at the register, which has the County’s contact information.

• Verify receipts and notify store management of any price discrepancies.

• To file a complaint, contact the County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures at 1-888-TRUE SCAN (1-888-878-3722) or visit


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