Can you be sure you're not over-charged when buying things at local stores?

Everyone knows where there is automation; there are errors. This week, dozens of retailers in North Carolina are facing fines of over $32,000 in some cases because of price-scanner errors.

All 37 stores were found to be overcharging customers due to price scanner issues, and those included Dollar General, Walmart, and Target locations.

Here in Texas, the Department of Agriculture's Weights and Measures Division ensures that commercial weighing and measuring devices are accurate and meet legal requirements. This includes price scanners at retail locations. It is a big job, so you can understand that they can't be everywhere.

Back in December, A 5NBCDFW report found errors in the price customers were charged at checkout, different from shelf prices posted in stores.

The Texas Department of Agriculture's most recent report for 2020 listed 111,824 inspections statewide of price-scanning systems in Texas. Of those, 8.4% were found to have at least one violation.

Retailers must generally have an error rate of less than 2% for price scanners. As in North Carolina, retailers face hefty fines and penalties for excessive price scanner errors.

Considering the average Texas consumer buys many items each year, an error rate of 8.4% can be considerable. It is important to note that not all of those errors are overcharges. Sometimes, there are UNDER charges. This might have been increasingly common due to how quickly prices increased during the most recent years of inflation.

Steps You Can Take to Prevent Over-Charges include:

1) Pay attention to prices. Notice whether the price on the shelf matches the scanned prices when you check out.

2) Double-check your receipts. After making your purchases, double-check your tickets and ensure the prices match those displayed on store shelves. If you notice a problem, report it to the store immediately.

3) Use a calculator or phone app. Keep a running tally of what you buy to ensure it matches the total you get upon checkout.

4) Always report errors. Alert the store or go directly to the Texas Department of Agriculture, especially if you repeatedly get over-charged at the same retailer.

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