Do you ever go shopping and find yourself desperately searching for a store employee who can tell you how much that item is that you are interested in? A report issued by the Arizona Department of Weights & Measures shows that out of 2,854 inspections conducted, 39% of the stores tested failed to pass a price posting inspection.
According to Arizona law (A.R.S. 41-2081), all retailers are required to place prices on or near the packaged items they sell. Retailers may either place a price directly on the package or use a sign to display the price. If a retailer decides to display a price sign, the text on the sign must be at least 3/8th of an inch in height and displayed in bold print near the item being sold. If the price on the shelf or display is less than 18 inches from floor level, the price must be angled for better customer visibility.
The Arizona Department of Weights & Measures conducts field inspections at retailers to determine if they comply with the law. To pass the price posting inspection, at least 98% of the items selected during the inspection must have the correct price on or near them. "Consumers deserve to make value comparison decisions. When retailers do not post a price, they are not only in violation of the law but they are not providing this valuable service for their customers," says Sandy Williams, Director of the Department of Weights & Measures.
The Best and The WorstConsumers may check out their favorite store for price posting accuracy through the Department’s website. During a ten month period in 2001, the retail stores that consistently complied with the law and had prices posted on their merchandise were Mervyn's, JC Penney, Best Buy, Costco and Vitamin World. During the same period the retailers that were the worst at pricing their merchandise were Bestway Food & Gas, Whitfill Nurseries, Cobblestone Markets, Kmart and NAPA Auto Parts.
Penalties For Not Posting PricesRetailers pay big for not passing an inspection. During this reporting period, a total of $365,460 in price posting civil penalties was charged. Retailers can be assessed a civil penalty up to $500 per package not priced with a maximum of $5000 per location per month. Civil penalties are assessed if a retail price posting inspection score is less than 95% and the retailer has had a previous inspection. Retailers must also fix non-priced items within 30 minutes of the inspection or the items cannot be sold until the price is posted correctly.
Shopping TipsThe Department of Weights & Measures relies heavily on consumers to be their eyes and ears in the marketplace. The following shopping tips, if used, can assist consumers in beating price posting problems. Look for prices and write them down. By law, retailers are required, upon your request, to provide you with a pen so you can write down prices.
- Speak up if you can't find a price.
- Notify the retailer of the problem.
- Call the Department at 602-255-5211 if a store doesn't fix the problem to your satisfaction.