Post Content

shutterstock_531633205

Compliance officers from the Division of Standards recently inspected 3,225 items in 100 retail stores throughout the Commonwealth. While many consumers might ask: What is the Division of Standards? The more important question is: What were they looking for?

The state’s Division of Standards (DOS) is a regulatory agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Its primary mission is to provide uniformity in the marketplace by enforcing standard accuracy requirements for commercial devices used in the weighing or measuring of any item sold by weight, measure or count. In simpler terms, the DOS enforces the accuracy of item pricing and price scanners, scales, weights and measures.

In this role, compliance officers visit stores looking to ensure that items ring up at the price for which they are marked. The Massachusetts Item Pricing Law requires food and grocery stores to individually price mark most items with the actual selling price. The law also requires food and grocery merchants to sell any item at the lowest price indicated on an item, sign, or advertisement.

Consumers should be pleased to know that overall pricing accuracy exceeded 99.3 percent—1.3% higher than the state accuracy standard of 98 percent. However, despite best efforts to maintain accurate prices, even the most diligent store employees and systems sometime make mistakes. Of the 3,225 items inspected, 22 were found to be overpriced. Pricing errors ranged from 10 cents on a package of Halls Cough Drops to a $7.00 dollar overcharge on a 36 pack of Bounty Paper Towels. Stores that have pricing errors or fail to meet the state standard are fined and retested to ensure that corrective action has been taken.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when shopping:

  • Food stores or departments that do not use price scanners are required to 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 lowest advertised price.
    • If the item costs less than $10 and rings up higher than the advertised price the item should be given as free.

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.

Written By:

Recent Posts

Beware of Coronavirus Scams posted on Mar 25

While schools and businesses are closed and everyone is practicing social distancing in an attempt to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), there is one group that is hard at work—scammers. Seeing an opportunity to take advantage in growing numbers, scammers are both resorting   …Continue Reading Beware of Coronavirus Scams

National Consumer Protection Week 2020 posted on Mar 2

National Consumer Protection Week 2020

Today marks the beginning of 23rd annual National Consumer Protection Week, a weeklong celebration of understanding consumer rights and making well-informed decisions about money championed by the Federal Trade Commissions’ (FTC). Educating consumers about fraud threats and other protection issues has become vital in recent   …Continue Reading National Consumer Protection Week 2020

Voting Early in Massachusetts: Here’s What You Need To Know posted on Feb 26

Voting Early in Massachusetts: Here’s What You Need To Know

For the first time in a Presidential Primary cycle, early voting will be made available to the citizens of Massachusetts, one week ahead of the Super Tuesday contests, where the Commonwealth’s pledged/bound delegates will be up for contention. Early Voting will take place this business   …Continue Reading Voting Early in Massachusetts: Here’s What You Need To Know