An ongoing review of listed prices at area discount stores continues to find customers overcharged at a rate Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith says he has never seen.
Recent comparisons found the price at the register didn’t match the list price for items at 26 of the 32 Dollar General stores and 15 of the 23 Family Dollar stores in Montgomery County, according to auditor’s office data obtained by the Dayton Daily News.
Search the data: View the data here to see which stores failed price checks and by how much.
At each store, the auditor’s office scanned 50 random items and compared them to the sticker price. Dollar General stores at 2228 Gettysburg Ave. and 2312 N. Main St. in Dayton had the highest rates in that chain, with prices not matching in at least half the items. Prices were off at 36% of items tested at the Family Dollar Store at 745 Troy St., the worst of that chain.
Overall, Dollar General had a failure rate of 69%, and Family Dollar stores failed 43% of the tests.
“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.”