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Price check!

Earlier this year, new legislation went into effect that allows for Massachusetts grocery stores to stop placing price stickers on each individual item for sale. Markets that opt to not label everything in their store must apply for a waiver with the Division of Standards. They will have to clearly place prices on store shelves and provide in-aisle price scanners for curious consumers to use to check prices. These price scanners are easy to use. Just locate the barcode on the item and place it under the scanner. A clear reading of the item’s price will be displayed.

As you’re checking out, keep an eye on the prices that appear on the register. You may want to review your receipt as well and make sure that the prices you paid were the same as the prices on the shelf and at the scanner. If you were overcharged and the item was valued at less than $10, you can get that item for free. If the item was worth more than $10, you’ll receive it for $10 less than its actual cost.

A Division of Standards survey conducted earlier this summer found 100% accuracy between the scanner prices and the prices charged at the register at grocery stores across Massachusetts. During this survey, it was discovered that some Shaw’s supermarkets had not placed price stickers on every item. These locations had not applied for the waiver that would have allowed them to stop labeling prices. The Division of Standards fined Shaw’s for this discrepancy and is in the process of surveying other Shaw’s markets to ensure compliance with the consumer law.

If you can’t find a price displayed on the store shelf and you’re confused over the cost of an item, look for a scanner or ask a store clerk to point you towards one. Then, if you think you’ve been overcharged, give your receipt a once-over; you could save yourself some dough!

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Paul Bologna is a student at Northeastern University and is a communications co-op at the Office of Consumer Affairs.

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