1 in 5 stores in Arizona charging more than posted prices, inspection reports say

Around one in every five stores may be overcharging for goods, 3 On Your Side finds.
Around one in every five stores may be overcharging for goods, 3 On Your Side finds.(Arizona's Family)
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:00 AM MST|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 12:19 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - You may be paying too much for the things you buy without realizing it. About one in five stores are failing a state inspection for charging more than posted prices, 3 On Your Side has learned.

Inspections are conducted by Arizona’s Weights and Measures Services Division. Kevin Allen, the associate director of the division, says compliance officers are looking to make sure there is a posted price for all items, and they are also checking to ensure the posted price is what consumers are actually charged at checkout. The state conducts about 1,400 of these inspections every year at all types of retail stores from mom-and-pop shops to large discount chains and grocery stores.

3 On Your Side followed along as Chad Pilié, a compliance officer, visited an Ace Hardware location in Tempe. Julie Buchkowski owns and operates the store, which easily passed inspection. But she says it takes a lot of hard work to keep up with pricing and promotions. “There are tons of challenges. Staffing is a big one, and in this market, inflation is going up like crazy, so trying to keep up with that. We have 35,000 items in our store,” she said. “And we’re doing 1,500 to 2,000 price changes every single week.”

About 17% of stores fail routine inspections for overcharges, according to Allen. That number jumps to a 40% failure rate when inspectors are responding to a consumer complaint. About 7% of the time, stores fail inspections because prices simply aren’t posted. Repeat offenders could face civil penalties. During a recent inspection of a Circle K in Scottsdale, three items rang up more expensive than their posted prices. Camping World in Mesa and a Target in Surprise also failed inspection for several over-priced products each. Another inspection report reveals 10 price problems at an Autozone in Mesa. If a shopper happened to purchase all of the overpriced items, it would have cost about $23 more than it should have.

“A few cents can add up here or there for a consumer. If you think of all of the transactions that you do in a week or a month or a year, if you’re not paying attention to the prices that you’re paying, your dollar maybe isn’t going as far as you thought it is,” Allen said. “Always check your receipt at the end of your transaction.” If you spot a discrepancy, notify an employee or manager at the store. You can also file a complaint with the state. If you’d like to check an inspection report, click here.

The Weights and Measures Services Division also check gas pumps. According to Allen, meter accuracy issues that short the consumer happen less than 1% of the time.