Yesterday, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced a major settlement with Dollar General Corporation resolving 662 alleged violations of Wisconsin price accuracy laws and 53 alleged violations of refund policy disclosure requirement laws by the retailer. Under the settlement, Dollar General does not admit to any violation of Wisconsin law, but will pay $850,006.11 in civil forfeitures, surcharges, and fees.
Additionally, the business has made changes to prevent future violations, including internal price accuracy checks at every store in Wisconsin at least once every 45 days. Dollar General reports that it has invested, and continues to invest, in improving its price accuracy practices in Wisconsin. Dollar General has spent approximately $70,000 to verify price accuracy since learning of the alleged violations in January and expects to spend approximately $300,000 annually to support price accuracy in Wisconsin going forward. DATCP continues to work with Dollar General to protect Wisconsin consumers through inspections and staff training.
DATCP conducted price verification inspections at 238 Dollar General stores in Wisconsin between January 30 and February 10, 2023. DATCP Weights and Measures inspectors and municipal inspectors from Appleton, Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Menasha, Milwaukee, Reedsburg, and South Milwaukee checked 7,344 products sold by Dollar General to ensure that prices charged at the register matched, or were lower than, prices posted on store shelves. Of these items, DATCP alleged that 662 scanned at a higher price than was posted, resulting in customers being overcharged for 9% of the inspected products. On average, these products scanned at a 17% higher cost than the stated price.
If a customer is overcharged for an item, Wisconsin law requires that merchants using electronic price scanner systems refund at least the difference between the posted price and the price charged at point of sale. These merchants are legally required to inform customers of this law by posting a sign in a conspicuous manner; however, DATCP alleged that Dollar General stores were missing this required signage at 45 stores during the initial inspection, and at 8 stores upon re-inspection.