Proposal to reward customers who are overcharged at stores

August 18, 2011 2:39:49 PM PDT
Cracking down on supermarkets overcharging shoppers.

The New York City Consumer Affairs Department has found violations at the checkout counters of many major chain stores.

Now there's a plan to get customers their money back, plus some extra cash.

Dept. of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, said that inspectors have been making test buys at nearly 2,000 supermarkets in all 5 boroughs over the past year. They found 1,162 violations for stores overcharging customers, or for charging tax on items that are not taxable like medicines, contraceptives, and certain medicated items, or for failing to provide information on items packaged in the store.

"For too long I believe that stores have been enjoying the rewards of overcharging customer and see paying fines as the cost of doing business," said Commissioner Mintz.

So now the commissioner is sending the city council a proposal: "The grocery SHOP act. SHOP stands for "Shoppers Have Overcharge Protection." If SHOP becomes city law, every time a customer is overcharged he would get both ten times the amount he was overcharged and the item for free. Additionally, the store would face triple the current city fines which start at $25.

The commissioner says putting this law in place would incentivize supermarkets to invest in quality control and stop violating the rights of New York City consumers.