Back To School: Inspectors testing price scanners on back-to-school items

CLEVELAND - How many times have you tried to buy something but the scanner rings up the wrong price? Well, there are some people on your side hoping to save you money by checking those scanners.

Michelle Wade from Cleveland Heights wants the scanners to be correct especially when she's buying all kinds of items for back to school for her children. "Instead of getting to the counter and them saying ‘Oh no, no, no. That's not the price you're going to be paying. It's going to be a couple of dollars more,’’ said Wade.

She knows any kind of pricing mistake could cost her. "It is tough to keep within a budget because we are finally getting into high school so we have some new things that we have to get that we hadn't planned for before," Wade explained.

That's why Cuyahoga County inspectors with the Department of Consumer Affairs randomly choose about 45 stores this year and checked their back-to-school items.

Using special software and their own scanning gun, inspectors collected the pricing information from stuff on sale in the weekly ads and other items not on sale. They then brought their lists to the front registers to make sure the prices are correct.  "Right now is when the parents are out there shopping,” said Director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs Cynthia Sich. “So, we want to make sure the items that they're getting for back to school are what they want to pay for,” she added.

This week, the team descended on 13 stores in Cuyahoga County. Of those, eight stores passed and five failed, though all five fixed their price errors before inspectors left.

PASSED

Target, 20900 Westgate Mall, Fairview Park

Discount Drug Mart, 765 Alpha Drive, Highland Heights

Marc's, 14851 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood

Target, 24646 Brookpark, North Olmsted

Marc's 26393 Great Northern Blvd, North Olmsted

Discount Drug Mart, 24485 Lorain Rd, North Olmsted

Walgreens, 24590 Lorain Rd, North Olmsted

Marc's, 6695 Eastgate Drive, Mayfield Heights

FAILED

Discount Drug Mart, 15412 Detroit Ave, Lakewood: 92 percent accuracy rate; 2 undercharges

Walgreens, 751 Richmond Road, Richmond Heights; 84 percent accuracy rate; 2 undercharges, 2 overcharges

Walmart, 24801 Brookpark, North Olmsted; 88 percent accuracy rate; 2 undercharges, 1 overcharge

Target, 14070 Cedar Road, University Heights; 84 percent accuracy rate; 3 undercharges, 1 overcharge

Walgreens, 5644 Mayfield Road, Mayfield Heights; 68 percent accuracy rate; 5 undercharges, 2 overcharges

"That piece of mind knowing that they're getting what they're paying for,” said Target Senior Team Lead Kyle England. “When something is on sale, it's on sale. They can see it so they can get it for that cheap a price," he described.

The National Retail Federal reports that back-to-school season is the second busiest time of the year for shopping. ABC News reports scanner errors cost consumers $1 billion to $2.5 billion dollars every year. So when it doesn't work for you, take action. "Yes, you can correct it with the store manager, but you should also notify Weights and Measures of the problem you've had," Sich told us.

Click here for contact information for the Cuyahoga County Consumer Affairs Department .

The allowable error rate during price verifications is 2 percent—or one error for every 50 items scanned.

That comforts Wade when it comes to back to school shopping.  "That helps me because I don't have to budget for more money than I expected to pay," Wade said.

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