This Shopping Season, Be Like Santa: Check Your Receipts, Check Them Twice!

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Thanksgiving and Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping events of the year, are here again.

That means this is the perfect time to remind shoppers: remember to double-check your receipts so you don’t get accidentally overcharged by faulty cash register price scanners.

It happens. Every year, the County’s Agriculture, Weights and Measures department inspects more than 1,800 local businesses to check price-scanning devices, scales that charge items by weight and other equipment that set prices, to make sure they are charging customers accurately.

But even the best businesses have occasional overcharges. Between January and October this year, just over one out of every 10 stores inspected, 11.84%, had overcharge errors, and the average overcharge was $1.47. An extra buck and a half may not sound alarming, but in the holiday shopping season, even tiny overcharges can add up to make big dents in your wallet or pocketbook.

So, be like Santa! Check your lists (receipts) and check them twice to make sure you have a merry holiday 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.
  • Download and use the County’s Tell Us Now app to contact Agriculture, Weights and Measures, or call AWM at 1-888-TRUE SCAN (1-888-878-3722) or email to to report overcharges you can’t resolve with a 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