Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

When shopping this holiday season, check that the price scanned at the register is what you’re supposed to pay. The City of Seattle inspected 57 retail stores in November and found that three failed. During the same time frame, the state Department of Agriculture found that 18 of 88 stores in other cities failed inspections. A store fails if more than 2 percent of the prices checked are overcharges. However, most price-scanning errors favored shoppers.

“When stores fail inspections, it usually boils down to one of two issues: either its scanning system is new or there has been a lot of management turnover,” says Craig Leisy, with the City of Seattle. “When we first started our inspection program, grocery stores were about the only retailers using price scanners. Now you see them in a lot of smaller retail outlets, such as gas station convenience stores.”

Experts offered the following tips:

  • Watch the cash register display at the check-out counter;
  • Ask questions if you are concerned about suspected errors;
  • Note prices and the posted discounts as you shop;
  • Bring ads with you; and
  • Check your receipt and resolve any problems before you leave the store.

For scan price disputes in Seattle, call (206) 386-1296 or complete this online complaint form. In Spokane, call (509) 625-6611. For other areas, call WSDA at (360) 902-1857 or e-mail wtsmeasures@agr.wa.gov.

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