Consumer Affairs Going After Cheating NYC Supermarkets

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Enough is enough for New York City supermarkets.

Jonathan Mintz, the commissioner for the Department of Consumer Affairs, said his department is going after supermarkets hard this year.

The Department will double supermarket inspections this year in an effort to prevent consumers from being taken advantage of.

“If these fines are just the cost of doing the business, then we’re going to double that cost of business and see whether that gets supermarkets to invest in getting it right at the checkout counter,” he said.

1010 WINS Reporter Terry Sheridan talks with shoppers who have encountered faulty pricing.

Right now, supermarkets are getting away with overcharging customers due to lax efforts in stores to keep pricing in check, he said, and that’s about to end.

Fort Greene resident Fred Chase said he’s learned to check carefully after checking out from the Pioneer Supermarket in Fort Greene.

“My wife always keeps the receipt – when she gets home, she looks at it,” he told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

That supermarket racked up more fines from the Department of Consumer Affairs last year than any other in the city: a whopping $11,000.

“Supermarkets are not only overcharging people because they’re not investing in getting it right in the checkout counter, but they’re benefiting from the fact that these smaller amounts aren’t going to get individual customers to put enough pressure on them,” he said.

Inspectors make sure items are scanned properly and weighed correctly, that special deals ring up as they should, and that sales tax is charged appropriately.

“Last year we found horrible compliance across the city,” Mintz said. “Basically one in two times, our inspector was finding a supermarket was failing its inspections.”

Brooklyn buyers need to be especially aware – of the 25 stores that racked up the most violations, 17 were in Brooklyn.

Supermarkets earned fines totaling thousands of dollars, but the DCA continues to find violations.

All of these violations fall on the consumers.

“There’s a lot going on at the checkout counter, and the ability to remember every price at the shelf is not the consumer’s job,” Mintz said.

Sound Off! Do you think you’ve been ripped off at the supermarket? Tell us where it was and what happened in our comments section below.

More from Tony Aiello
  • robert degery

    Great wall asian supermarket on fort hamilton parkway in brooklyn has a host of fish for sale that were chewed on by mice.and a whole freezer of expired food.

  • liu

    check this pasific supermarket, 7501 broadway elmhurst.

    i’ve been cheated today. 16 items charged for 15 items.
    it had happened before.
    the line was long when it happened.

  • liu

    it seems like comment is worthless.

  • nathan

    Watch the registers as they ring it up in the smaller stores where they don’t have auto price scans. They cheat you constantly

  • Stan

    I didn’t know we had a Waldbaums in Freeport. Can you tell me exactly where it’s located? I checked with their website and this store doesn’t show up as one of their locations?

  • Frustrated

    Waldbaums in College Point and Freeport charges at least 80 cents more per quart of milk that local supermarkets or even another branch. For example, those stores charge $1.89 per quart; the Francis Lewis store charges $1.12 (up from $1.02 a few weeks ago); Associated, in Rego Park charge $1.19.

    I e-mailed customer service and spoke to people at the front desk in College Point, asking why they are price-gouging on a staple. No answer to e-mail, lies from the front desk.

  • RightHere

    NY will never go after the lawyers; most of the attorneys in consumer affairs are getting some experience before heading into a life of legalized corruption, bill padding, outrageous charges, etc. The people are fed up.

  • d_dan50

    It’s about time consumer affairs is cracking down on supermarkets.
    I found the membership cards are only in the favor of the supermarkets.
    They advertise the price with the card and if you don’t show it at the checkout you get charged full price.
    They show the price per pint, quart or oz size and you have to figure out which price is the best also you can’t see the price per oz because it’s too small on the shelf. People with many items at the checkout don’t watch the register, there are so many overcharges. The trick is to know what you will be paying before hand and watch the registers for each item or just buy a few items so you can keep tract.

  • dfarin ludwig

    Never mind the supermarkets, how about the gas stations

  • Elleyby

    I say… If its not worth it, then don’t buy it… I mean… how are you really getting ripped off, besides just fooling yourself… If you don’t like the price, then just don’t buy the product. I personally favor the product, over the price, because… that’s the price… Since I’ll always get what I want, then that must mean that the price must always be right…

  • Ali

    Not alot of people do this but I find it helps tremendously. I always bring a calculator with me when I go shopping. As I pick up items I tally them. This gives me an approximate amount so when I do check out I have some idea of what I’ll be paying. I never ever allow a cashier to begin scanning until I’ve taken every item out of the cart, placed them on the counter, and begin looking directly at the monitor. I always place sale items or items I have coupons for first on the counter. Sounds like alot of work, I’m sure. But they scan so fast and so many times they don’t update their system to reflect accurate item amounts that this becomes a necessary way of doing things. Nice to know someone is looking into this. But it will never stop, so we have to stay one step ahead of them.

  • yadev

    Pioneer in corona Queens always have expired food and also 25% of prices scan wrong from there advertise price in weekly cir.

  • jerseyjoey

    Good Luck, tooooo much money in food retail and a very cash heavy lobby. Only two markets that are not energy are making gobs of money and also hirring, Big Food & Big Medical both of whom are corrupt and paid off DC. Absolute corruption corrupts absolutlly.

  • Travonne E.

    The 2 supermarkets near the Bronx VA on Kingsbridge always smell like cats. The meats always look rotten and brown! I notice the supermarkets that are run by puerto ricans do not take manufacturer coupons and the ones that do like C-Town, do not take coupons if an item is on sale! They need to take an example from Stop & Shop….A Great Place to Shop!

  • LissieV

    I would like to see the Department of Health step up their inspections. The Fine Fare supermarket in my neighborhood is disgusting. Expired food is not rare and I once saw a mouse run in the frozen food aisle. I never went back. I reported it but got no response and I haven’t heard of any changes from neighbors.

    • RabidSquirrel

      [V]ermin run rampant in some of these places.

  • Sir Chadwell Heath

    somehow i don’t think we’re going to get a parade as a result of this :(

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