For Immediate Release - December 21, 2007

Annual Retail Scanner Price Checks Produce Positive Results for Holiday Shoppers

Consumer Affairs Releases Accuracy Survey, Shopping Tips in Time for Last Shopping Weekend before Christmas

With shoppers and retailers gearing up for the last shopping weekend before Christmas, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation today delivered welcome news to consumers - only four Massachusetts stores failed to meet the state's 98 percent price accuracy regulations.

The Division of Standards, a Consumer Affairs agency, conducted its annual retailer pricing accuracy survey at 87 retail chains over the last few weeks. Of the more than 4,500 items scanned, 31 rang up higher than the lowest advertised price, resulting in a total of $3,500 in fines issued to retailers. The largest overcharge at the checkout was $66.99 for a Samsung TV at a Circuit City in Natick. For survey results, please see the survey summary document pdf format of    ItemPricingResults2007.pdf  .

"As they're busy wrapping up their last-minute shopping this weekend, consumers can rest assured that their gifts are ringing up at the right price," said Consumer Affairs Director Daniel C. Crane. "The Division of Standards deserves to be commended for conducting inspections to ensure Massachusetts retailers are meeting the state's price accuracy standards so that consumers are protected during the holiday season and throughout the year."

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation offered the following shopping tips as consumers prepare for the last shopping weekend before Christmas:

Shopping Tips:

  • Bring sale circulars to the store with you. Regardless of the price scan, generally retailers are required to sell you the item for their lowest marked or advertised price. Please note exceptions: A sale price does not have to be given if an ad or circular specifies a limited quantity in stores or if there was an unexpected demand for an item and it is out-of-stock. Ask the manager for a rain check at the sale price, but be aware that exceptions to this rule exist.
  • If an item scans higher than advertised or marked, ask for a price check from the store manager.
  • Some retailers have a "price accuracy guarantee." That will apply if an item scans higher than the advertised or marked price. These retailers may have a policy that will give you cash credits or offer an item free of charge.
  • Check your receipt before you walk away. If you notice an error, ask the cashier to adjust the total. If you've already left the cashier, see the store or department manager or the customer service department to correct any mistakes.
  • Know your shopping rights. The product you purchase must do what it was designed to do with reasonable safety, efficiency and ease for at least a reasonable period of time, formally called an "implied warranty."
  • The merchant must clearly and conspicuously disclose the store's refund, return or cancellation policy before the purchase is made. The merchant must display a written policy that the buyer can see before the purchase is made. If you don't see the policy, ask about it.
  • A store cannot use its disclosed policy to refuse the return of defective merchandise. When the item purchased is defective, you can choose a repair, replacement or refund. If a merchant chooses an "all sales final" return policy, it must disclose that policy upfront without limiting your rights. For example, all sales final with the exception of defective goods.
  • Gift certificates must remain valid for at least seven years and are not subject to any fees.

Once you have used 90 percent of the certificate's value, you may choose to take the remaining value in cash, or continue with the gift certificate.

  • Gift certificates must be clearly marked with an expiration date or one must be made readily accessible. If expiration dates are not provided, the gift certificate shall be good forever.
  • Dormancy fees (fees charged for not using your gift certificate in a timely manner) are not allowed in Massachusetts.
Always read the fine print and make sure you understand the store's gift card policy. If you don't understand the terms ask questions before you buy! Make sure the policy is printed on the card or you receive a copy of the terms before you leave the store.