The last thing consumers want to worry about when shopping is pricing and scanner accuracy. Fortunately mistakes at the register are the exception and not the rule in Massachusetts. However, errors are inevitable and items can be inaccurately priced.

To ensure retailers honor marked or advertised prices, the Division of Standards conducts thousands of random inspections throughout the Commonwealth. Each year, stores must meet the state accuracy standard of 98% based on a random sample of at least 50 items or more depending on the size of the store. During the 2007 holiday season, the Division of Standards scanned more than 4,500 items from nearly 100 retail chains, resulting in a total of $3,500 in retailer fines. Detailed survey results can be found at http://www.mass.gov/Eoca/docs/dos/ItemPricingResults2007.pdf pdf format of    ItemPricingResults2007.pdf  .

For more information on item pricing and scanner accuracy, or to file a consumer complaint, please visit the Division of Standards website at www.mass.gov/standards.

Know the Law: Grocery Item Pricing

Food retailers offer sale and discounted prices on particular items for a short period of time. Sometimes discounted prices and signs are not removed after the sale ends. To protect consumers and encourage retailers to keep a close eye on their item pricing, Massachusetts law states that a food store or food department may be fined $100.00 for any item that scans higher than the lowest advertised, marked or shelf tag price.

Although there are a number of exemptions from having a price label on each individual item, stores can also be fined for every missing shelf price tag. For more information about Massachusetts item pricing law, please visit M.G.L. Chapter 24, Section 184 B, C, D and E.

Price Accuracy Guarantees

Some food stores offer consumers one of the items free if it scans higher than the lowest advertised price. Price accuracy guarantees are required to be posted at each checkout lane.