Holiday shopping season is time to check those receipts

Courtesy photo

Gig Conaughton

County of San Diego Communications Office

Let the shopping – and receipt-checking – begin.

The holiday season means the busiest shopping time of the year is back. The county wants to remind shoppers to double-check all receipts to protect themselves from being overcharged by faulty cash register price scanners.

It can happen. Every year, the county’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures inspects thousands of local businesses, checking price-scanning devices, the scales that charge items by weight and the other equipment that set prices, to make sure they are charging customers accurately.

Last year, one out of every eight businesses inspected, 12.5 percent, had overcharging errors, and the average overcharge was $2.28. By itself, that’s not much – about enough to buy a cup of coffee, a box of pasta or a bag of chicken-flavor, chew-stick ferret treats.

But add a few overcharges up, and it adds up to some real cash.

So remember to double-check all receipts and read these other tips about shopping smartly and safely this holiday season.

First, protect against overcharging.

Always verify receipts and immediately notify store management of any price discrepancies.

Stores are required to display the price of an item, as it is being scanned and before the transaction is complete. Watch the display screen as items are scanned.

Take sales advertisements along when shopping to verify prices.

Know that stores cannot legally charge more than their lowest advertised, posted or quoted price.

Next, shop smart.

Plan ahead. Start watching for store sale fliers, flea markets, garage sales, clearance sales, etc. and make a list.

Comparison shop with at least five different sources, looking for the best values.

Don’t buy everything at once. Establish a spending plan and timetable to buy what is needed over several weeks or months to take full advantage of future sales and true bargains.

Call Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures at (888) 878-3722 or email s[email protected] to report overcharges that can’t be resolved with the store.

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