The Rockingham Walmart has been fined $1,350 for excessive price-scanner errors which caused customers to be overcharged for some items, according to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Standards Division.
State officials conducted a random inspection of the store in June and found it had a five percent error rate based on a sample of 100 sales. The store was given until August to reduce the error rate to two percent or less on a larger sampling of store items but failed again, only reducing the error rate to three percent with nine overcharges out of 300 items, which resulted in the fine.
Inspectors also take into account customers being undercharged, but those instances do not count against the store, according to the Ag Department.
“As the holiday’s approach, we want consumers to be confident that the price on the shelf matches the price that’s scanned at the register,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement. “Most stores pass inspection. Ones that have excessive price-scanner errors are fined until they come into compliance.”
The store has since passed inspection.
“We are aware of the inspection and notice of violation in this situation,” Tara Aston, a Walmart spokesperson, told the Daily Journal on Friday. “We have worked to address this and clear up any discrepancies for our customers.”
It is unclear how many customers were overcharged on purchases prior to inspection.
These inspections are part of a routine check on the accuracy of price-scanner systems at the department’s constituent businesses. Stephen Benjamin, director of NCDACS Standards Division, said the inspectors were looking for instances where an item was advertised at one price but was rung up at another.
“This is about comparing what (price) the customer sees and what they are charged,” Benjamin said.
He added that there are “lots of reasons” why these discrepancies could potentially occur. At smaller stores, it could be the same person stocking the shelves as ringing up customers and they make a mistake; in larger stores, a vendor could come in and change a price without letting the store know, someone could forget to take down a “sale” sign or a customer could put an item in the wrong spot.
State officials arrived at the $1,350 amount by fining them a base fee plus $15 for every item that is overcharged in the course of the inspection, according to Benjamin.
Other stores fined in the first quarter of 2017 were: a Dollar General in Durham which failed three inspections and was fined $2,622.50; a K-Mart in Jacksonville that failed three inspections and was fined $720; and a Walmart in Laurinburg that failed two inspections and was fined $1,035.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.