DATCP announces settlement with Dollar General for accurate price violations

(Live 5)
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 2:41 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has announced a settlement of over $800,000 with Dollar General Corporation.

The settlement resolved 662 alleged violations of Wisconsin price accuracy laws and 53 alleged violations of refund policy disclosure requirement laws by the retailer. Under the settlement, Dollar General does not admit to any violation of Wisconsin law but will pay $850,006.11 in civil forfeitures, surcharges, and fees.

DATCP conducted price verification inspections at 238 Dollar General stores in Wisconsin between Jan. 30 and Feb. 10, 2023. DATCP Weights and Measures inspectors and municipal inspectors from Appleton, Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Menasha, Milwaukee, Reedsburg, and South Milwaukee checked 7,344 products sold by Dollar General to ensure that prices charged at the register matched, or were lower than, prices posted on store shelves. Of these items, DATCP alleged that 662 items were scanned at a higher price than what was posted, resulting in customers being overcharged for 9% of the inspected products. On average, these products scanned at a 17% higher cost than the stated price.

“The accuracy of prices on store shelves is among the most basic and essential protections consumers have,” said DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski. “Consumers should be able to trust that the prices advertised to them are accurate, and they have a right to be informed of the laws protecting them.”

If a customer is overcharged for an item, Wisconsin law requires that sellers using electronic price scanner systems refund at least the difference between the posted price and the price charged at the point of sale. These sellers are legally required to inform customers of this law by conspicuously posting a sign; however, DATCP alleged that Dollar General stores were missing this required signage at 45 stores during the initial inspection, and at eight stores upon re-inspection.

These inspections follow a 2018 settlement wherein Dollar General paid over $10,000 for similar alleged violations. Between that settlement and the 2023 statewide inspection, 76 of the 89 routine price accuracy inspections DATCP conducted at Dollar General stores in Wisconsin failed to meet the national standard of 98% or greater accuracy. DATCP had sent 11 warning letters documenting these issues to Dollar General during this period.

Dollar General reports that it has invested, and continues to invest, in improving its price accuracy practices in Wisconsin. Dollar General has spent approximately $70,000 to verify price accuracy since learning of the alleged violations in January and expects to spend approximately $300,000 annually to support price accuracy in Wisconsin going forward. DATCP continues to work with Dollar General to protect Wisconsin consumers through inspections and staff training.