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Item Pricing and Scanning Accuracy Questions and Answers
Changes to Michigan's Item Pricing Laws
Act 15 of 2011, the "Shopping Reform and Modernization Act" became effective on September 1, 2011. This legislation replaces the item pricing law Act 449; "Pricing and Advertising of Consumer Items". Many store owners are experienced with Act 449; however, many of you may not be familiar with this new legislation, As often happens with change, questions regarding compliance and enforcement will arise from both operators and consumers. The following information is provided to answer the most common of those questions.
After reading Act 15, you will notice many similarities to the item pricing law Act 449. Act 15 places the duties of implementation, administration and investigation of section 7 and 8 with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and is assigned to the Weights and Measures. The Attorney General still maintains complete authority over the act as a whole, just as before. In the definition section you will note the removal of some definitions and the addition of others. The big change to be aware of is to the price displayed.
"A price is "displayed" for a consumer item if the price is stamped, affixed, or otherwise marked on the consumer item or the price of the consumer item is displayed, by signage, by an electronic reader, or by any other method that clearly and reasonably conveys the current price of the consumer item, to a consumer when in the store at the place where the item is located".
The Change is as business owners you can continue to affix price stickers to your stores' items if you choose but it is no longer required by law.
As before, Act 15 exempts thirteen items from having to display a price. These are the same thirteen items from Act 449 section 2 that did not require a price to be affixed to them. Also as before, advertisements still can not be "untrue, deceptive, or misleading" in any way.
Similarly, you can not knowingly charge or attempt to charge a retail price that is higher than the price displayed for that item. What this means is if your business uses an automatic checkout system (electronic scanner) and the customer is charged more than the price displayed for that item (even a displayed sale price) as it appears on the receipt, your customer is eligible to receive the difference or error amount, as well as the bonus (bounty).
The Bounty, that's right, the bonus (bounty) is still in effect.
The conditions that need to be met in order for your customer to be eligible for the bonus (bounty) are as follows:
(a) There is a price displayed for the consumer item (the price does not need to be affix to the item in question).
(b) The sale is recorded by an automatic checkout system.
(c) The buyer is given a receipt that describes the item and states the price charged for the item.
Your customer has 30 days to bring it to the establishment's attention, either in writing or in person. Within 2 days from receiving the notice you may choose to refund the difference between the amount charged and the amount displayed, plus a "bonus" of 10 times the difference not less than $1 and with a maximum of $5. Remember, like Act 449 they can request this for more than one different item on a single receipt.
If you choose not to pay the bonus (bounty) or even the difference, your customer has the legal right to take you to court and may receive $250.00 in damages and up to $300.00 in attorneys' fees.
Things to remember and take with you:
- A price must be displayed in a manner that clearly and reasonably conveys the price in the store at the place where the item is located.
- The bonus (bounty) is still in effect; now even for sale items.
- All pricing must be correct; if there is a conflict with pricing, the lowest price displayed must be charged for that item.
- Advertisements can not be "untrue, deceptive, or misleading" in any way.
As always, use your best judgment, people are still entitled to file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General and/or Weights and Measures. As before all complaints are investigated and legal action could result.
For more information or a copy of the new law please see: Michigan.gov/AG.
For questions or concerns related to weights and measures, advertising and or legal methods of sale, please contact the Office of Weights and Measures at 517-655-8202 or visit us on the web at Michigan.gov/WMInfo.