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MADISON Wis. -- Roundy's Supermarkets, Inc. has agreed to pay a $44,576 forfeiture to the state for checkout-scanner overcharges, state consumer protection officials here said yesterday.
State inspectors discovered the overcharges during the fall of 2004, said Janet Jenkins, an administrator with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.
Roundy's agreed with the state to correct the problem. When inspectors returned to the stores in June, they still found a failure rate of 4.1 percent in scanners at 12 stores, said Jenkins, adding that inspectors found a ratio of four overcharges to one undercharge. State statutes require a 98 percent accuracy rating.
Jenkins noted that prices were downloaded to the scanners from Roundy's corporate offices, but the changes apparently were not made to the items on the sales floor. "When consumers buy their groceries, they expect to be charged correctly," she said.
Roundy's agreed to pay the forfeiture in late December, said Jenkins.
In a statement related to alleged overcharges, Robert Mariano, chairman and c.e.o. of Roundy's, said: "Overcharging customers is unacceptable at any store operated by Roundy's Supermarkets, Inc., [and we take] any customer complaint, including complaints about overcharges seriously."
According to Mariano, in most of the cases cited by Wisconsin's Trade and Consumer Protection division, human error is to blame, involving expired sale tags that had not been removed from the shelves. Consequently when Consumer Protection auditors visited some Copps and Pick 'n Save stores, items rang up at the regular price, appearing to be overcharges based on out-of-date sale signs.
"Roundy's is in the process of implementing a new pricing system to eliminate such mistakes. It involves enhanced price tags designed to prevent human error," said Mariano. "It will be fully in place in all Roundy's stores by Feb. 26. In the meantime we stand behind our policy already in place to protect our customers from overcharges."
The policy, which is posted in all Roundy's stores, reads: "If you are charged incorrectly on your receipt, we will give you the item free, with the exception of tobacco and liquor, for which you will be refunded the difference between the purchase price and the posted or advertised price. 'Free' is limited to one of each item. The consumer will be refunded the difference on any or all items purchased."
Mariano said Roundy's pricing department follows up on any overcharge complaint and determines if the problem is within one store, many stores, or throughout our entire system. "Whatever the case, the pricing department works to correct the problem."