Walmart and Dollar General Are Under Fire for Doing This to Customers
If you've shopped at these stores, you may want to double check your last receipt.
When you're shopping on a budget, there are certain stores you know you can count on. Walmart stores and Dollar Generals are two of these hubs, known for their unbeatable bargains and daily deals. But these two companies have recently come under fire for something they've done to customers, which may make you wary about heading in to shop. Read on to learn more about why Walmart and Dollar General are now facing backlash—and why you'll want to hold on to your receipts if you do shop at either chain.
Both stores have experienced their fair share of criticism.
As larger companies, both Walmart and Dollar General have dealt with controversies, which include everything from questionable product advertisements to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspections. Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Walmart, as well as Kohl's, for carrying products that allegedly falsely implied they were made with environmentally-friendly bamboo. In reality, these products—including bedding, towels, and bras—were made with rayon.
Dollar General has found itself under fire for products in its inventory also. In Aug. 2021, roughly 155,000 lounge chairs sold at the chain were recalled after it was found that they could collapse unexpectedly. If a finger was caught in the metal folding joints, this created an "amputation, laceration, and pinching hazard," the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said. Now, both Walmart and Dollar General are facing new allegations—and this time, it could affect your wallet.
The latest issues are related to price-scanner errors.
According to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA & CS), 11 stores in the state—including Walmart and Dollar General locations—were fined due to "excessive price-scanner errors." Stores were located across North Carolina, in Ashe, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Moore, Surry, Watauga, and Yadkin counties.
The increase in price-scanner errors is tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resultant staff shortages, according to Steve Troxler, North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner. "It is always a good practice for consumers to check their receipts as well as the price on the shelf to make sure that they are paying the correct amount," Troxler said in the press release.
Walmart and Dollar General are not the only stores that have been penalized.
Chad Parker, manager of the NCDA & CS Standard Division Measurement Section, told The Charlotte Observer that there has been a record number of these overcharge complaints and fines in North Carolina. Walmart and Dollar General locations alone have been fined a combined total of $48,760 over the past four months, but other stores have also been overcharging customers. One Ingles (a supermarket chain) location and two Advance Auto locations were hit with $10,530 in combined fines, according to the NCDA & CS press release.
The 11 stores listed were just a fraction of the 42 total stores that have been fined in North Carolina during the first quarter of 2022. Inflation is also a contributing factor, Parker said. Prices are downloaded from corporate locations, but store employees have the challenging task of manually changing shelf tags. And with rapidly changing prices, anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 tags could be changed each week, according to Parker. "Obviously, that's going to be much more challenging to do," he told The Observer.
Inspectors randomly visit stores to check for price-scanner systems.
These price discrepancies are found when NCDA & CS inspectors conduct inspections of store locations, which are periodic and unannounced. If more than a 2 percent difference is noted between the listed price and the prices that ring up on the register, the inspector speaks with the manager and schedules a follow-up inspection. Stores incur penalties when they fail these follow-up inspections and are then reinspected every 60 days until getting the error rate under the 2 percent mark. If they continue to fail inspections, stores can also incur additional penalties.
While some locations have passed inspections, others still need to be reinspected, including two Walmart locations, three Dollar Generals, and one Advance Auto store.
Officials recommend keeping track of your receipts.
If you find that you have been overcharged at one of these locations, the NCDA & CS recommends calling the Standards Division at 984-236-4750. Officials are also reminding consumers to pay attention to their receipts. "It impacts every customer," Parker told The Observer. "There's potential to be overcharged every time you buy something."
Charles Crowson, director of the Walmart Press Office, Corporate Communications, told Best Life there are "processes in place" to ensure the price you see on the shelf is also what will come up at the register.
"We encourage customers to bring price irregularities to an associate's or manager's attention," Crowson said in an email. "We will happily work to address the matter."
Dollar General did not immediately respond to an email from Best Life requesting comment.