Black Friday is Here, Santa’s on His Way; Time to Check Receipts

Black Friday is coming. Santa is readying the reindeer.

That means the “shop ‘til you drop” holiday season is back! It also means it’s time to remember to double-check your receipts when you hit the stores so you don’t get overcharged by faulty cash-register price scanners.

It can definitely happen. Every year, County inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures inspect thousands of local businesses, checking price-scanning devices, scales that charge items by weight, and the other equipment that set prices, to make sure they are charging customers accurately. Last year, one out of every six businesses inspected had overcharging errors.

So check all your receipts, because even small overcharges can add up in “shop ‘till you drop” season. Here are some other tips to help you shop smartly and safely:

Protect Against Overcharging:

  • Always verify receipts and immediately notify store management of any price discrepancies.
  • Stores are required to display the price of an item (as you are buying it) before the transaction is complete. Watch the display screen as your items are scanned.
  • Take sales advertisements with you when shopping to verify prices.
  • Know that stores cannot legally charge more than their lowest advertised, posted or quoted price.

Shop Smart:

  • Plan ahead. Start watching for store sale fliers, flea markets, garage sales, clearance sales, etc.
  • Make a list of what you need.
  • Comparison shop with at least five different sources for the best values.
  • Don’t buy everything at once. Establish a spending plan and timetable to buy what you need over several weeks or months to take full advantage of future sales and true bargains.
  • Call Agriculture, Weights and Measures at 1-888-TRUE SCAN (1-888-878-3722) or email to to report overcharges you can’t resolve with store.

For more information, go to Agriculture, Weights and Measure’s Consumer Protection webpage and check out this video about the scanner inspection program.


Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact