Supermarkets, National retailers fined

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Supermarkets, National retailers fined

Thu, 06/15/2006 - 8:00pm -- tim

Supermarket Chains Fined Nearly $20,000 for Violating VT
Retail Pricing Laws
 
Three major supermarket chains, one drug store chain, and
one other national retailer have been cited and penalized for violating Vermont
retail pricing laws.  Shaws, Price
Chopper, and Grand Union Supermarkets; Rite Aid Pharmacy; and JC Penney have all
agreed to pay penalties ranging from $1,000 to $3,500 for overcharging consumers
for items in their stores.
 
The violations were discovered during routine surveys by
inspectors from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.  In all five stores, inspectors found
that prices at registers were higher than prices advertised on shelves for
certain items.  Those discrepancies
ranged from $.02 to $14.  An
investigation found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing, but there were
factors about these discrepancies that concerned
officials.
 
"What concerns us is that these errors were on non-sale
items," Assistant Attorney General Michael Duane said.  "When an item goes on sale, it is
conceivable, albeit not acceptable, for a retailer to enter an incorrect price
when re-programming a scanner. 
However, when the error is on an 'everyday' price, that mistake is
protracted over a longer period of time, most often to the advantage of the
retailer."
 
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets,
through the work of its Consumer Protection inspectors, turns up about a dozen
such violations each year.  In most
cases, pricing discrepancies are minor and largely due to human error.  The Agency advises consumers to always
be aware of what they are paying for items.
 
"Our advice to consumers is to be vigilant in checking
out that the shelf price actually rings up at the same price at checkout,"
Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr says. 
"This is especially so when customers buy many items at one time, like in
supermarkets.  Our Vermont retail
stores generally have good track records, but human error can occur, and we want
to know about it."
 
For more information, contact Michael Duane, Assistant
Attorney General, at (802) 828-3178, or Henry Marckres, Consumer Protection
Chief at the Agency of Agriculture at (802)
828-3458.
 
(More)
 
 
 
Retailer         
           
Range of Scanner
Discrepancies            
Penalty*
 
 
Shaws Waitsfield        
           
$.10-.40                  
           
           
$5,755
 
Shaws Williston           
           
$.04-2.00                
           
           
$2,105
 
JC
Penny Berlin                       
$1.50-14.00              
           
           
$1,035
 
Price Chopper Essex               
$.10-1.00                
           
           
$2,255
 
Price Chopper Burlington           
$.10-1.00                
           
           
$1,035
 
Price Chopper St. Albans           
$.10-.30                  
           
           
$1,605
 
Price Chopper Colchester           
$.02-.29                  
           
           
$1,305
 
Grand Union Swanton               
$.10-1.00                
           
           
$2,255
 
Rite-Aid St. Johnsbury              
$.10-1.00    
           
           
           
$2,550
 
Total               
           
           
$.02-14.00              
           
           
$19,900
 
*Penalties are determined based on the number of
violations at an individual store