Dollar General Is Being Sued for Doing This to Shoppers: "Appalling Behavior"
Officials are taking action against the retailer following a recent investigation.
Dollar General has quickly risen as a go-to shopping destination in towns across the U.S. Inflation has driven shoppers to discount and dollar stores, which offer relief from higher prices in all sectors of the economy. Per The New York Times, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said people were shopping more often but buying less, with his stores seeing an uptick in higher-income shoppers. But while even those with more cash to burn are on a budget, Dollar General is now being sued for doing something that affects all customers. Read on to find out what officials are calling "appalling behavior."
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Dollar General earned serious backlash last month.
Last month, Dollar General received its fair share of bad press when it was confirmed that 20 different stores in Ohio were overcharging customers, the Journal-News reported.
On Oct. 14, County Auditor Roger Reynolds, of the department of weights and measures, performed price verification checks at Dollar General stores in Butler County, identifying "double-digit error rates," per the Journal-News.
Errors ranged from 16.7 to 88.2 percent, which is significantly higher than the 2 percent error rate permitted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The issue was first pointed out by resident William Anderson, who penned a letter to the auditor's office and noted that management at one Dollar General posted a sign that read "Prices cannot be changed at the register. All prices are final."
Reynolds told the Journal-News that the overcharging "is a serious problem," as people look to these bargain stores for lower prices and end up being charged too much. Now, Dollar General may be forced to face the music.
Ohio is taking action.
On Nov. 1, the state of Ohio sued Dollar General Corp., according to a news release from the Ohio Attorney General's Office (AGO). The release cites "consumer complaints from multiple counties" about lower prices on Dollar General shelves and higher prices at the register.
"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," Attorney General (AG) Dave Yost, said in the release. "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."
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Dollar General's practices are in violation of state law, officials said.
The formal investigation was carried out in Butler County, but between March 2021 and Aug. 2022, the AGO received reports of "similar unfair and deceptive practices" in eight other counties, namely Cuyahoga, Franklin, Highland, Lucas, Madison, Richland, Summit, and Trumbull.
In one instance, a customer in Franklin County said they saw shampoo priced at $1 on the shelf, but they were then charged double when checking out. Similar to what Anderson described about price-changing policies, the AGO noted additional complaints of Dollar General stores not changing prices even after shoppers noted the discrepancy.
The state's lawsuit alleges that Dollar General's is violation Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act by listing inaccurate prices and violating its rule about "bait advertising," also known as "bait-and-switch advertising." It was formally filed in Butler County Common Pleas Court, per the release.
The AG called Dollar General's actions "appalling."
Ohio is asking Dollar General to pay damages to consumers and $25,000 in civil fines for each violation, according to the lawsuit. In addition, the AGO is seeking "court intervention to remedy the unjust situation for consumers and bring Dollar General into compliance with Ohio law."
"This is appalling behavior and should be answered for in a court of law," Yost said in the news release. "If you see this happening in a store near you, let my office know. We're here to protect Ohioans from being ripped off."
Ohio residents can contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515 with any concerns about questionable business practices. But while the lawsuit is being filed by Ohio, it's not the only state to report errors like this; earlier this year, North Carolina fined several Dollar General locations for price-scanning errors that resulted in shoppers paying more. In 2019, the state of Vermont also reached a $1.75 million settlement with Dollar General for violating its Consumer Protection Act, Fox-affiliate WXIX reported.
Best Life reached out to Dollar General about the latest lawsuit, but has yet to hear back.