Monday, January 21, 2002

Study: Stores mark wrong prices on items

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A study by the city department responsible for making sure retail outlets are pricing items accurately found that more than 7 percent of merchandise examined was mismarked or incorrectly scanned.

        That's more than three times the state average of 2 percent the Ohio Department of Agriculture found in a 2000 study.

        The city's Weights and Measures Department found 402 er rors during checks last year of 5,425 items randomly selected during surprise visits to drug, convenience and department stores.

        About half the errors were overcharges.

        “It's definitely a problem, especially when you know it could happen to you,” said Cordell Robinson, who is in charge of the department.

        The study found discrepancies to be widespread.

        Department employees visit ed about 80 stores during the study, typically testing 25 or 50 items to see whether a price marked on the shelf matched the register price when the bar code was scanned.

        A business is considered to be failing when the price of at least one item scans at least 2 percent higher or lower than the shelf price. Last year, 60 percent of Columbus stores failed, compared with about 40 percent the previous year.

        The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants says negligence, not malice, is to blame.

        Business owners could face as much as a $1,000 fine and six months in jail for the misdemeanor. But usually, inspectors just let them know about the problem.


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