Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asked a state court to issue a temporary restraining order against one of America’s largest discount retailers.
The request seeks to force Dollar General to stop advertising one price on shelves but repeatedly charging another – usually a higher price – at the register when customers check out.
Dollar General did not immediately respond to Retail Dive’s request for comment Friday.
Under Ohio law, stores may have a 2% error rate on overcharges, according to a release from the attorney general’s office in November. But inspectors in Butler County in October found pricing error rates ranging from 16.7% to 88.2% in 20 Dollar General stores.
The 250-page court filing details numerous examples of price discrepancies throughout Ohio. In one instance, an October inspection at a Dollar General in Hamilton, Ohio, which is in Butler County, found pricing discrepancies that ranged from 20 cents to several dollars per item.
In another case recently cited by the attorney general’s office, a person reported that a Dollar General in Franklin County listed shampoo at $1 on the shelves but charged double that amount at the register. In some cases, the attorney general’s office said, the stores refused to adjust the price even after customers pointed out the price differences.
The pricing issues led Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano to require some Dollar General stores to post stickers on their registers. The stickers warn that prices may ring up incorrectly and that customers should verify the advertised price of their items versus what they’re actually charged.
In an announcement about the restraining order, Yost said Dollar General’s actions are an ongoing violation of the state’s Consumer Sales Practices Act. In November, Yost sued Dollar General over ongoing pricing discrepancies. Even after the lawsuit, county auditor inspections and reports found that some stores continued to fail pricing inspections, and continued charging more for products than the advertised price.
“There’s a mountain of evidence showing that Dollar General simply doesn’t care to fix the issue – and that’s despite numerous consumer complaints, failed auditor inspections and our lawsuit,” Yost said.
Ohio customers in eight counties submitted 12 complaints about deceptive pricing at Dollar General from March 2021 through August 2022. But since the lawsuit’s filing in November, the attorney general’s office still received 116 complaints about discrepancies in Dollar General’s advertised prices versus what people were actually charged at the checkout.
Earlier this month, Dollar General asked the court to dismiss the November lawsuit. The Tennesse-based company’s attorney argued in court that the state has not offered proof of its allegations, according to local news outlet WKBN.
“Everything we buy these days costs more – Ohioans can ill-afford businesses that draw people in with the promise of low prices only to deceive them at the checkout counter,” Yost said in a November statement announcing the lawsuit. “This seems like a company trying to make an extra buck and hoping no one will notice. We’ve not only noticed but are taking action to stop it.”
Dollar General has about 950 stores in Ohio and about 18,000 locations nationwide.