Dollar General, Walmart, and Target Are Under Fire for Overcharging Customers Again
The popular mega-retailers were hit with major fines as a result of price scanner errors.
There are few things more frustrating than overpaying for something you buy. And it's even more irksome when you're already trying to save money by shopping at a discount store or affordable big-box store, where you expect to get the most bang for your buck. As it turns out, several of these mega-retailers, including Dollar General, Walmart, and Target, were just found to be overcharging shoppers—and it's not the first time this has happened. Read on to find out about the latest overcharging allegations.
State officials identified price scanner errors.
During the first quarter of 2023, approximately 37 stores in North Carolina were fined due to price scanning errors, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) announced in an April 17 press release.
The inaccuracies were discovered during the NCDA&CS' "periodic, unannounced inspections," where the department checks to see if prices on the shelf match those that ring up at checkout.
Retailers undergo a follow-up inspection if they have greater than a 2 percent error rate on overcharges, and if they fail a follow-up inspection, they start to incur penalties. Stores continue to be inspected (and fined) every 60 days until their error rate falls below the acceptable 2 percent rate.
The NDCDA&CS also logs undercharges, but those don't count against stores.
Dollar General and Family Dollar were by far the worst offenders.
In total, the NCDA&CS identified price scanner errors at 16 Dollar General stores, slapping them with $70,845 in penalties for overcharging customers. Ten stores have since passed inspections, but six will need to be reinspected, according to the NCDA&CS press release.
Family Dollar, a subsidiary of Dollar Tree, had price scanner errors at fewer stores (11), but the discount retailer incurred greater fines. All in all, Family Dollar was fined nearly $180,000—with one store in Hertford, North Carolina, racking up a whopping $32,685 in penalties.
Eight of the 11 Family Dollar stores have yet to pass inspection, the NCDA&CS noted.
Both Target and Walmart were fined as well.
Price scanner errors were also found at three Target stores, landing the retailer with $20,000 in cumulative penalties, while one Walmart Supercenter was fined $3,395 for overcharging customers. Two of the three Target stores require re-inspection, but the sole Walmart passed in January with a 1 percent error rate.
Additional retailers were hit with fines for price scanner errors, including a Minuteman Food Mart, three Circle K convenience stores, and individual Aldi and Earth Fare grocery stores, per the NCDA&CS release.
The agency encourages customers to give their receipts a second glance, just to make sure that you're not paying more than you should. If you live in North Carolina, you can report errors to the NCDA&CS Standards Division by calling 984-236-4750.
"Our Standards Division closely watches stores to ensure that consumers are protected," Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in the press release. "This is an important function to make sure North Carolinians are being charged the prices they see on shelves. While our work will continue, it is important for consumers to check their receipts regularly and notify store managers if they see a discrepancy."
These retailers have been fined before.
The NCDA&CS stays on top of these price scanner errors, working to ensure that customers are charged correctly. However, Walmart, Target, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Circle K are all repeat offenders, as the agency just fined them following inspections late last year.
According to a Jan. 30 press release outlining penalties for the fourth quarter of 2022, three Target stores were hit with $13,810 in penalties. A total of 23 Dollar General locations were also found to be overcharging, costing them $136,795. As with the most recent inspections, errors were detected at fewer Family Dollar stores, but the retailer was on the hook for more money, paying roughly $155,00.
On the other hand, Walmart stores in North Carolina have improved since the end of 2022, when six stores were fined a grand total of $22,830.