January 29, 2004
TO: ALL STORE MANAGERS GENERAL DISTRIBUTION
The County of Santa Clara Division of Weights and Measures has discovered many businesses with an unacceptable rate of accuracy in price verification systems (scanners), and the rate has not improved despite our educational and enforcement efforts. Most of these scanner systems fail inspection criteria because the scanned price does not match the shelf price.
To address this issue, the Board of Supervisors adopted section B30-16 of the County of Santa Clara Ordinance Code on August 19, 2003. This ordinance authorizes the Division of Weights and Measures to charge businesses that use price verification systems an annual registration fee. The registration fee funds the entire price verification inspection program and repeals the old scanner ordinance that authorized reinspection fees. Stores are inspected once every two years. Noncompliant businesses are inspected until an inspection is passed.
Section B30-21 of the ordinance requires that the following notice to consumers be posted at each price verification system station.
"Attention Consumer: You are entitled to the lowest advertised price offered by this store. For information or complaints, you may call the Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer at the toll free number 1-866-SCANNER (1-866-722-6637)."
Implementation of this ordinance began July 1, 2003.
Many businesses have programs in place to ensure that the correct price is charged. If you do not, here are some suggestions that will help in the establishment of an in-house price verification program:
- Assign specific persons the responsibility of verifying price changes, either for the whole store or a specific department(s).
- Double check all price changes whether implemented in-store or by a file server from a remote location.
- Be sure that a manager or scanner clerk is able to take corrective action if errors are discovered.
- Require all employees to report any price discrepancy immediately to the person responsible for changing prices. Inform other outlets and the district manager of any pricing error.
- Many errors result from expired or incorrect in-store advertising signs. Color code weekly sales signs, so current signs are better distinguished from expired ones.
- Count and date the number of signs placed on shelves, aisles, or end caps on the first day of the sale, and re-count the number removed. A map of ad locations might be helpful.
- Strike-through UPC codes, or label the price on marked-down items.
- Keep a copy of sale advertisements at each checkstand for clerks’ and customers’ reference.
- Price changes on shelves made by vendors should be coordinated with store management.
- Adopt incentives for customers to bring price discrepancies to management’s attention.
You and your staff are in the best position to monitor compliance. Should the Division of Weights and Measures discover violations during the inspection, the following enforcement options will be considered:
- Notice of Violation
- Office hearing
- Infraction or Misdemeanor Citation
- Administrative Penalties
- Referral to the District Attorney’s Office
Our ultimate goal is to minimize pricing errors, thereby ensuring fairness in the marketplace. An effective in-store verification system is a critical element for ensuring accurate pricing.
You can download and view the "Scanners - A Guide for Consumers & Businesses" brochure in Adobe PDF format (527kb). For Santa Clara County residents only, to report a complaint regarding scanners, call toll free: 1-866-SCANNER (722-6637) or report online.
If there is anything that we can do to assist you, or if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at (408) 918-4601.
Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures