Cuyahoga County conducts back-to-school supplies price audit at area stores

Audit checked price accuracy at 138 local stores

CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald are keeping watch on the accuracy of prices for thousands of consumers who are in the process of buying school supplies.

The county conducted a consumer affairs "Back-to-School Blitz" and checked the accuracy of prices at 138 northeast Ohio stores. The Department of Consumer Affairs wants to be sure Cuyahoga County consumers are getting the back-to-school deals that they are promised.

The school supply price audit took place during the week of Aug. 5. Inspectors from the Weights and Measures Division completed unannounced audits of drug, discount, office supplies and department stores that were advertising back-to-school products to verify that the prices advertised were accurate.

The audit excluded the city of Cleveland, which has its own Office of Consumer Affairs. 

Among 138 stores inspected, 118 stores passed the audits. Keep in mind stores only had to have one wrong price to be given a failing grade.

Cuyahoga County released the following results to NewsChannel5:

CVS Pharmacy - 23 stores inspected (21 – Passed) (2-Failed)
Dollar General - 8 stores inspected (7 – Passed) (1-Failed)
Drug Mart – 8 stores inspected (100%)
Family Dollar – 7 stores inspected (100%)
JC Penney's – 4 stores inspected (100%)
Kmart – 5 stores inspected (100%)
Kohl's – 4 stores inspected (100%)
Macy's – 3 stores inspected (2 – Passed) (1 – Failed)
Marc's – 16 stores inspected (10 – Passed) (6 – Failed)
Office Max – 9 stores inspected (5 – Passed) (4 – Failed)
Rite Aid – 12 stores inspected (100%)
Sears – 3 stores inspected (100%)
Staples – 3 stores inspected (100%)
Target – 6 stores inspected (5 – Passed) (1 – Failed)
Walgreen's – 20 stores inspected (15 – Passed) (5 – Failed)
Wal-Mart – 7 stores inspected (100%)

The good news is that stores inspected had a near perfect 99 percent compliance rating after inspectors looked at 3,450 individual products.

However, county director of consumer affairs Cynthia Sich still warns consumers that they need to pay careful attention to prices when they get the shelves and the registers.

Sich reports school notebooks, pencils and pens were most often incorrectly priced.

"Educating and protecting residents at every age and every stage of life is vital to the Department," Sich said. "Consumers can access information through our web site to help make informed decisions. As the Department grows so will the information we provide."

The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs also launched a website for residents to learn about their rights as consumers. The website includes free resources to help consumers steer clear of fraud, and also features consumer protection videos.

Sich told NewsChannel5 the Weights and Measures Division will back out checking prices during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

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