Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Check once, check twice, check your receipts so your holiday's nice

Gig Conaughton

County of San Diego Communications Office

The shop-shoppingest time of the year is back. And that means it’s a perfect time to remind all of us – always, always double-check your receipts so you don’t get accidentally overcharged by faulty cash registers and price scanners.

Online shopping has gotten huge. But most of us are still trekking to the shopping mall and stores. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s recently released E-Commerce Third Quarter 2023 report, ecommerce made up 15.6% of all retails sales. That means a heck of a lot of people are going to, and buying in, stores.

And being overcharged can happen.

Every year, to make sure local consumers are being charged accurately, the county department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures inspects more than 1,400 local businesses and 21,000 price-scanning devices, scales that charge for items by weight, and other equipment that set prices.

And even the best businesses have occasional overcharges.

This year, between January and October, just over one out of every five stores, 18.5%, that were inspected had overcharge errors. And the average overcharge was $2.37. An extra two and a half bucks may not sound alarming, but even tiny overcharges can add up to make big dents in your wallet or pocketbook in the holiday shopping season.

So, check your lists (receipts) and check them twice to make sure you have a merry holiday season. Here are some other tips to help you shop smartly and safely:

Protect against overcharging:

• Always verify receipts and immediately notify store management of any price discrepancies.

• Stores are required to display the price of an item, as you are buying it, before the transaction is complete. Watch the display screen as your items are scanned.

• Take sales advertisements with you when shopping to verify prices.

• Know that stores cannot legally charge more than their lowest advertised, posted or quoted price.

Shop smart:

• Plan ahead. Start watching for store sale fliers, flea markets, garage sales, clearance sales, etc.

• Make a list of what you need.

• Comparison shop with at least five different sources for the best values.

• Don’t buy everything at once. Establish a spending plan and timetable to buy what you need over several weeks or months to take full advantage of future sales and true bargains.

• Download and use the county’s Tell Us Now app to contact Agriculture, Weights and Measures, or call AWM at 1-888-TRUE SCAN (1-888-878-3722) or email to [email protected] to report overcharges you can’t resolve with a store.


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