Dollar General is under investigation by the Ohio Department of Agriculture after investigators found the discounter was charging higher prices at the register than those listed on the shelf, according to a statement from Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds last week. At some stores, nearly 88% of items were more expensive upon checkout than the originally stated price.
All 20 Dollar General stores in Butler County were surveyed by officials from the county’s weights and measures department earlier this month and “the results have been very bad,” Reynolds said.
The best-performing Dollar General store surveyed had a “fail rate” of 16.7%, while the worst-performing location scanned items incorrectly 14 out of 16 times for a “fail rate” of 87.5%. In Butler County, stores are only allowed a plus- or minus-2% error rate, Reynolds said.
“This is a serious problem,” he said. “A customer could be charged substantially more than the listed shelf price and that amounts to a form of consumer fraud. During these inflationary times, people turn to stores like these to get some bargains. Instead, in too many instances, they are being overcharged.”
Dollar General did not immediately respond to a WGB request to comment on the pricing issue.
Some examples of higher prices at the register include a six-pack of Diet Coke at a Dollar General in Oxford, Ohio, that had a shelf price of $4.00 but scanned at $5.25 and, at a Hamilton, Ohio, store, Nestle Coffee Mate creamer had a shelf price of $2.00 but scanned at $4.35 and Perdue Chicken Strips had a listed price of $7.95 but were $10.75 at checkout.
At most stores, where there was an advertised deal for a lower price if multiple items were purchased, the reduced price was not reflected at checkout, the auditor said.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture, which oversees weights and measures in the state, has been notified of the scanning issues and is investigating, Reynolds said.
The auditor noted that Dollar General reached a $1.75 million settlement with Vermont after the state’s attorney general found that the discounter violated the Consumer Protection Act. In that case, Dollar General was notified at least 50 times by the state that items on the shelf were being scanned at higher prices at the register.
Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Dollar General was facing $1.6 million in fines because of workplace safety violations identified at its stores in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Since 2017, Dollar General has received more than $9.6 million in OSHA penalties, including nearly $1.3 million in proposed fines levied against the company in August.