For Immediate Release - December 15, 2011

Division of Standards Survey of In-Aisle Scanners Find Nearly Half Do Not Meet State Operating Regulations

BOSTON - December 15, 2011 - A survey by the Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Standards of hundreds of in-aisle scanners at 17 retailers found nearly half of the machines dedicated to consumer price checks did not meet state operating regulations for printing a price tag and a means to affix the tag to the item.

State pricing regulations allow non-food stores to remove item prices on non-food and grocery items as long there is an in-aisle price scanner for every 5,000 square feet of floor space. The scanners must be able to print a price sticker and have a way to attach the sticker to the item.

Of the 433 scanners inspected, 54.7 percent were in compliance. Management at the locations with faulty scanners were notified of the issues by inspectors. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, which oversees the Division of Standards, will refer the survey findings to the Attorney General's Office, which has enforcement power through the regulations.

"In visits to these retailers our inspectors noticed that many of these in-aisle scanners did not operate properly, and we thought this was an important issue to check," said Charles Carroll, the Director of the Division of Standards. "Consumers often want to check the price of an item, and the scanners should be accurate and offer a way for consumers to note the price – namely by being able to put a price sticker on the item."

Of the 47 locations checked by inspectors, only 10 locations had scanners with no problems. There were 19 locations where none of the scanners were working up to standards. This includes two of three Best Buys checked, all four Lowe's checked and all four Macy's checked. The issues for scanners included some that were not working at all or were not plugged in, some that did not print out labels, and some that did not include a mechanism to attach the label to the item.

Inspectors checked stores in Auburn, Berlin, Billerica, Braintree, Chicopee, Danvers, Hadley, Holyoke, Hudson, Lanesboro, Millbury, Pittsfield, Springfield, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Westfield, West Boylston, West Springfield, Woburn and Worcester. A complete list of results from the survey can be found at the Division of Standards website.

"Consumers have the right to know the price of an item before they have to pay for it, and in-aisle scanners are a tool frequently used by consumers who want to check the price of an item. If these scanners are not operating properly, it is not only an inconvenience to consumers it is also in violation of state regulations," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "We will continue to monitor this situation and urge retailers to make sure their scanners are properly working."

The Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Standards enforces laws, rules, and regulations relating to weights and measures and the use of weighing and measuring devices in commercial transactions. It consistently checks item pricing and pricing methods at retailers throughout Massachusetts. The Division is part of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. For more on the Division and the Office, visit www.mass.gov/consumer and the Office's Consumer Connections blog, and follow the Office on Twitter @Mass_Consumer.

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