Dollar General Temporarily Shuts Down Stores Amid Overcharging Backlash
The discount retailer is facing ongoing problems with its pricing methods.
Shoppers are busier than ever trying to secure savings at stores, as high inflation and supply chain issues continue to push prices up. For many consumers, this means choosing discount chains like Dollar General over other options. But in some cases, that budget plan could backfire. Dollar General is currently facing significant backlash for ongoing issues with allegedly overcharging customers—and now, the retailer has temporarily shut down several stores as a result. Read on to find out more about these recent closures.
READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Dollar General Employees.
Dollar General was recently sued for overcharging customers in Ohio.
A battle has been brewing between Dollar General and the state of Ohio. The state's Attorney General's Office said it received a dozen complaints between March 2021 to Aug. 2022 from consumers alleging that the retailer was conducting "unfair and deceptive practices" at its stores in multiple counties, including in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Highland, Lucas, Madison, Richland, Summit and Trumbull.
In Oct. 2022, testing from the auditor's Department of Weights and Measure in Butler County, Ohio, found error rates ranging from 16.7 to 88.2 percent at 20 Dollar General stores. (The Ohio Department of Agriculture's rules only allow up to a 2 percent error rate of overcharges.)
As a result of these findings, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against Dollar General in Butler County on Nov. 1 for advertising a different price on its shelves than what customers are actually being charged.
"Everything we buy these days costs more—Ohioans can ill-afford businesses that draw people in with the promise of low prices only to deceive them at the checkout counter," Yost said in a statement at the time. "This seems like a company trying to make an extra buck and hoping no one will notice. We've not only noticed but are taking action to stop it."
That wasn't the end of it for Dollar General. On Jan. 11, the Attorney General requested a temporary restraining order against the company, citing "ongoing violations of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act," and requested a hearing to push a preliminary injunction that would require the retailer to "abide by Ohio consumer laws as this case progresses." Now, that may have led to certain Dollar General stores shutting down.
The retailer just closed several stores in the state.
Dollar General began temporarily closing some stores across Ohio on Jan. 27, Winsight Grocery Business reported. According to the publication, it's unclear exactly how many locations were affected by the closures.
Workers at the Clintonville Dollar General in the Columbus metro area told local news affiliate NBC4 that they received a call from corporate telling them to close, but were not given a reason or timeline for when they would reopen. The retailer's store in Westerville had a sign that said it was "temporarily closed for inventory" and would "open at 11:30."
Yost said that the temporary closures are a reflection of the retailer's ongoing overcharging issues in the state. "Ohio's Dollar General stores are shutting down to re-tag all their shelf prices—exactly the reason we sued them," he tweeted on Jan. 27. "Glad to see this first step—but we are going to insist on the court order to enforce continued compliance with Ohio's market fairness laws."
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Dollar General said it closed stores for an "overnight systems error."
There appears to be some confusion over why the stores were actually closed, however. Employees at Dollar General stores in Salem, Boardman, and Youngstown seemed to confirm Yost's claim to local CBS-affiliate WKBN, telling the news outlet that the locations had temporarily shut down for them to do price changes.
But the Dollar General Corporation Public Relations team responded to NBC4 with a different explanation for the closures: "Dollar General closed select stores this morning to address an overnight systems error," a spokesperson told the news outlet. "This issue has been resolved and all impacted stores are now open to continue serving our customers. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."
Best Life reached out to Dollar General for clarity about the temporary store closures, but has not yet heard back.
The retailer has been accused of overcharging customers in North Carolina, too.
Ohio is not alone in its frustration with Dollar General. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) also cited the discount retailer for overcharging consumers in the state several times over the last year, with the latest instance occurring just this month.
A Jan. 30 press release from the agency revealed that 52 different stores in 33 counties had been fined for "excessive price-scanner errors." Of these, 23 different Dollar General stores throughout the state were forced to pay up.
"Our Standards Division continues to see about a quarter of all price scanner inspections fail and many stores are failing multiple inspections," Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement. "Overcharges cost consumers, so we remain vigilant in inspecting stores in order to protect consumers. Remember it is always a good practice to check your receipt as well as the price on the shelf to make sure you are paying the correct amount and alert managers if the prices don't match."