SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 4, 2013

Survey: Mass. market scanners 100 percent accurate


The Salem News

---- — BOSTON (AP) — A new state survey of supermarket price scanners has good news for price-conscious consumers.

The study by the Office of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Standards found 100 percent price accuracy between the prices advertised on store shelves and the prices that popped up on scanners located at registers and in aisles.

The survey follows a new state law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick last year designed to provide stronger consumer protections for shoppers while letting businesses use high technology scanner systems.

The law lets stores waive previous regulations, which had required individual sticker pricing for each item. Stores can now offer scanners as a means to check prices as long as they get approval from the Division of Standards first.

The new regulations took effect in January.

The surveyors participating in the study went to 18 store locations of five major supermarket chains — Stop & Shop, Hannaford’s, Big Y, Shaw’s and Price Chopper — in Massachusetts with a list of 10 popular barbecue items, including hamburger meat, hot dogs, buns, coleslaw, ketchup, and pickles.

Of five chains surveyed, Hannaford stores rang up the cheapest, with an average total price of $31.57. Shaw’s supermarkets rang in with the highest total prices for the barbecue items, averaging $39.75.

Surveyors also checked two Market Basket locations for pricing accuracy and found no item pricing violations. They also found the stores had the lowest prices of the chains surveyed, but the retailer wasn’t included in the official survey results because only two stores were visited.

Three or four stores were visited in each of the other chains.

Under the new law, prices must still be printed on itemized sales receipts.

The new regulations also say that if the amount charged at the register is more than the shelf price, consumers receive the item free if it costs less than $10, or receive $10 off the price of the item if it costs more than $10.

If a consumer is overcharged at a store using the old sticker item pricing system they should — under the law — get the item for the lower price.

Massachusetts is the last state to phase out the individual item pricing law.