“We’ve never had failure rates like this,” Keith said.
Keith says his office is passing its findings along to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which regulates pricing statewide.
Agriculture department rules allow stores to have an error rate of up to 2% on overcharges, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Four Dollar General stores and five Family Dollar stores had only one item ring up differently than the list price in the county auditor’s review, so they passed the state standard of 2%. The rest of the stores where prices didn’t match was over that threshold.
The Dayton Daily News left messages with representatives from both companies.
Keith said his office is continuing its review at other discount stores such as Dollar Tree. He said understaffing and undertraining of workers are possible contributing factors to the failure rates..
“That’s no excuse,” he said. “These stores are required to do right by their customers and if they advertise one price on the shelf that’s the price they should charge at the checkout.”
Keith said sometimes the checkout prices are lower, but “predominantly they are overcharging” – sometimes for more than twice the posted price.
“We want to make sure the customer is not getting ripped off,” Keith said.
Similar problems have been found in other counties.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost this month has announced lawsuits against Tennessee-based Dollar General and Virginia-based Family Dollar for allegedly charging customers differently than the listed price. Yost says his office received complaints about pricing issues in multiple Ohio counties.
Yost’s office notes that these stores often serve low- and lower-middle-income neighborhoods.
“We’re looking not just for reimbursement, but we want a court order to make them stop doing this and to put adequate controls in place so that the price you see on the shelf is the price that they charge at the register,” Yost said. “I’m optimistic that we’ve got a good case and we’re going to get justice.”