General Merchandise/HBC

Dollar General’s ‘Deceptive Pricing’ Mess Deepens

Ohio AG seeks temporary restraining order to force an end to unfair practice
Dollar General store
Photograph: Shutterstock

Ohio’s attorney general on Jan. 11 filed a temporary restraining order against Dollar General, seeking to compel the retailer to charge the same prices at the register as are advertised on its shelves.

The move is the latest in an ongoing battle between the state of Ohio and the discount retailer. In October, the Ohio Department of Agriculture began an investigation into the chain after auditors found that nearly 88% of items were more expensive upon checkout than the price listed on the shelf.

Ohio AG Dave Yost filed suit against Dollar General in November in Butler County over the alleged deceptive pricing but said problems have persisted since then.

“The defendants have engaged and continue to engage in a pattern and practice of unfair and deceptive acts and practices,” Yost said in the motion filed in a Butler County court. “Without this court issuing a temporary restraining order to restrain Dollar General from charging prices at the register they are not advertising on the shelves or, in the alternative, from advertising prices on the shelves they are not charging at the register, the defendants will continue to engage in the practices described, thereby causing injury to additional Ohio consumers.”

Dollar General did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the motion.

Yost, in a statement, said Dollar General is refusing to fix the pricing issue. Since the lawsuit was filed in November, the state attorney general’s office has received 116 complaints about the retailer’s pricing inconsistencies, Yost said.

One state auditor, Michael Stinziano in Franklin County, required certain Dollar General locations to put stickers on its cash registers to warn shoppers they may be charged incorrectly, Yost said. The stickers say, “Warning unsealed scanner system. Verify you have been charged correctly. This device has not been approved by the office of weights and measures.”

Dollar General’s pricing practices, Yost said, violate the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act. The AG requested a hearing on a preliminary injunction that would require the retailer to abide by Ohio’s consumer laws as the case moves through the legal system.

As recently as Jan. 10, county auditors in Ohio have found inconsistent prices at Dollar General, Yost said in his temporary restraining order motion.

Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General operates more than 500 stores in Ohio and nearly 19,000 locations in 47 states around the country.

In December, the retailer revealed ambitious growth plans, saying it intends to open more than 1,000 new stores this year.

Dollar General has been investing heavily in its grocery business, and inflation-weary shoppers flock to the discounter in search of bargains. During the third quarter, sales of consumables at Dollar General rose 12.2% over the same period the year before.

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