Inspections Find Many New York City Supermarkets Overcharging Customers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Not only are prices going up at your local supermarket they also may not always be right.

“Supermarkets failing inspections 59 percent of the time still have not gotten the message,” Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz said. “We are finding repeated violations regarding a failure to put the prices on the items as required by the law, charging too much at the register, charging tax when no tax is supposed to be charged.”

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports: Are You Being Scammed?

EXTRA: Tips On How To Save At The Supermarket (pdf)

Last year, the city promised to double the number of inspections and crack down on stores that were overcharging. Turns out it didn’t work.

Inspectors visited nearly 2,000 stores in all five boroughs and found inaccuracies on price tags, scanners and scales. One in three items in the review were overpriced, according to Mintz.

The most common violations were for failure to mark proper quantities and provide required accountability information on food packaged in the store, adding tax to non-taxable items, charging the wrong prices at the check-out counter, failing to affix price tags on individual items, and maintaining inaccurate scales or failing to make scales available to customers for products sold by weight.

An Associated Supermarket on Manhattan’s East Side has been slapped with violations before. The manager said it’s just an oversight.

“Occasionally price might not go through properly. Customers bring it to attention. We correct it as soon as possible,” Norman Quintanilla said.

A year ago, inspectors found 48 percent of supermarkets complied with accurate pricing polices. Compliance has since dropped to 41 percent.

Pricing problems can happen anywhere. The Department of Consumer Affairs suggest you look for price tags, freshness dates on perishable food like eggs, dairy, and baked goods, and scales available for customers to use in produce areas.

Mintz is proposing legislation which would require supermarkets to pay customers 10 times the amount of the overcharged item and give them the item for free.

“I believe that when customers get overcharged, supermarkets should pay for it not profit from it,” Mintz said.

The law would also triple existing fines. Currently, fines for some violations range from $25 to $300.

Connecticut and Michigan have similar laws on the books.

On Thursday, the Department introduced the Shop Act, where customers would get the item for free if overcharged and ten times the amount of the overcharge.

Consumers looking to file an official overcharge complaint can call 311 or visit New Yorkers can also using the hashtag #nickeled&dimed and post to the Consumer Affairs Facebook page.

Why do you think food prices are going up? Sound off in our comments section below…

More from Juliet Papa
  • tryecrot

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  • Concern

    Unions, Charity Search Engines cents for Central Falls, RI.

  • Vernon Hell

    Looks like I’ll have to carry a set of standard weights with me. Maybe I can get one of those vests the suicide bombers wear, stuffing the pockets with weights instead of explosives. That way I can go from scale to scale blowing up the supermarket’s scams.

  • Prescription Drugs

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  • Z

    pathmark @ atlantic ave does this

    they advertise one price
    they charge you another
    of course you can always go to the customer service and get the price correction
    but how many people fall for their tricks? many.

    it may be “human error” but they not hurting from it. time to give’em the hurt
    fine them but not 10 times but 100 times the difference + item free

  • Truth

    Giving stuff away for free to consumers will create more headaches. Just raise the fines were it hurts. $25-$300 is not high enough. They can overcharge and pay the fine and still make more money than correcting the problem. $5000-$10000 is going to hurt a lot and will make sure the management at the supermarket do their job which protects the consumer.

  • JasonS

    This is why I stopped going to the skanky small supermarkets like Key Foods and Gristedes and Associated etc – they are so shady and will stop at nothing to rip off their customers in various subtle ways. Not only that, the produce is of very poor quality, the stores are often dirty, and the staff always have that surly, lazy ghetto attitude where they’re too busy talking to each other to ring up your groceries.

  • flea

    “It’s Time To Stop&Shop”

    • Vernon Hell

      Stop & Shop? Here on L.I., their prices are almost as high as King Kullen. Plus their self service checkouts are the World’s worst, resembling something cobbled together from eBay garbage bins. If anything goes wrong, despite having a button for it, they will not let you void the transaction and start over, insisting you wait for the invisible attendant. Now, it IS a touch screen but there is no sign telling you what to touch it with, so the last time I pounded on it with my fist and the attendant arrived quickly enough. There is nothing like the power of imminent destruction.

  • jh

    go to the Fairway…

    • Daphne

      @ jh………………….UHHHH…the suspense is killing me. Can you please tell me more ?

  • Daphne

    Who are they kidding? Stores have been stiffing customers for a long time. Its up to the person to look @ the weekly circular and make sure that the scanned price @ the register reflects the amount. EVERYTHING goes up..newspapers, fruit,meat, GAS..RENT EXCEPT OUR PAYCHECKS. As long as you don’t pay close attention you will be ripped off…the cashiers void the item once you leave,enter in the sale price and pocket the change.

  • Abawarukoel

    i have one place that within a six month period this supermarket increased there prices by 50 percent, the location myrtle and broadway in brooklyn, FOOD DIMENSIONS, which might have 75 percent of their workers are illegal dont speak english and ignores their customers.

    • Daphne

      @ Aba….I know that store well. I was once a resident of Bushwick. The workers pretend not to speak nor understand English. Take a look in the front of the store…the last time I was there they had an entire wall near the bag check that holds pictures of thefts that happened in the store. They understand English, a good percentage of the people in the area are black & hispanic so they perhaps try and avoid the obvious. I live in Kearny and the Pathmark will GIVE you the item FREE if the register price does not reflect the SALE price. Its up to the store to maintain their inventory sales correctly.

  • goblin

    NYC is overcharging residents of the city with outrageous parking fines and meter fees. i don’t see anyone investigating that.

    • midi-man

      You can all the MTA, bridge tolls, taxes heck everything thanks Bloomberg.

      • Wig Wam Willie

        What does the MTA have to do with parking meters?

    • KPMc

      Stop parking your car illegally, genius!

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