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A recent Boston Globe article by Sarah Shemkus about the Item Pricing Law and possible consumer cost savings made us realize that it might be time to do a refresher course on the law and why its important consumers be aware of it.

The reporter’s experience highlights an important point: consumers deserve accurate pricing. When an item does not ring up at the price marked, then consumers deserve some recourse.

The Massachusetts Item Pricing Law requires:

  • Food stores, or retailers with food departments, that do not use price scanners must individually price each item in addition to displaying the price on the shelves.
    • Some items may be exempt from the provisions of the law such as milk or candy because of how quickly they sell.
  • If a grocer offers a rewards or discount card, the regular price must be displayed alongside the discounted price.
  • If there is a discrepancy between the price listed on the shelf or item and the price that it rings up at, the consumer must be offered one of two corrections:
    • If the item costs more than $10 and rings up higher than the advertised price, $10 must be deducted from the price.
    • If the item costs less than $10 and rings up higher than the advertised price the item should be given as free.

The law also requires a food/grocery item to be sold at the lowest price indicated on an item, sign, or advertisement.

Consumers should have confidence that the price their item rings up at is accurate. Every year, compliance officers from the Division of Standards conduct a pricing accuracy survey and last year overall pricing accuracy exceeded 99.3 percent—1.3percent higher than the state accuracy standard of 98 percent.

If the scanner price doesn’t match the advertised price or a food/grocery merchant doesn’t adjust the price in the event of a pricing error, report this to the Division of Standards.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s  Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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