Unit Pricing

Eliminating Unit Pricing May Save Business But Could Cost Consumers Millions

Posted In: Politics, State,   From Issue 721   By: Robert E Martin

24th February, 2011     0

On other fronts, the Michigan Legislature is taking up the issue of Item Pricing Modernization. Currently Michigan is one of two remaining states that require stores to put price stickers on all products sold, including the checkout stand, which allegedly costs Michigan small business about $2.2 billion per year to comply with.  Consequently, legislators are looking at repealing what they feel to be an antiquated regulation.

State Representative Ken Horn posed the question of whether this law should be eliminated or not on his Facebook page, which was met with over 5 dozen mixed responses.

Matt de Heus of Bay City, who ran for the U.S. House of Representatives seat on the Green Party ticket last year, had this to say: “The price tag is part of a ‘triangle’ that helps assure consumers are charged the correct price – tag, shelf label, scanner. Having all three makes it a pretty sturdy system for the customer. Having only two, the shelf sign and the scanner, will inevitably lead to more discrepancies. Trying to match the small print on the shelf tag to the item sitting above it – which may or may not be the right item in many instances – is harder on seniors in particular. If the tags go, they must be replaced with a system that protects the consumer – perhaps increasing the penalty that the store must pay the customer for errors or requiring audits of shelf tag versus scanners, similar to what we do in scales and meters.”

Many people have experienced scanning overcharges that are instantly rebutted by unit price tags. By law in Michigan people are entitled 10 times the overage, or up to $5.00, only the shopper is also empowered to enforce the law at the point of sale; which, if the truth be told, is also a cost that gets passed on to consumers.

According to Horn, polling is running 50/50 in terms of those in favor and opposed to the idea. “I’ve heard almost every argument against, and it seems to come down to one issue: trust,” notes Horn.

“As in every aspect of life, trust is vitally important in any interaction. You should know that there are added protections through the Attorney General’s office and public education is also built into the bill.”

According to Information Week, an IT business magazine, $2.5 billion is lost every year by the American consumer because of mis-scanned items at the checkout. In February of 2001, Kmart paid $50,000 to settle a lawsuit for scanner overcharges; and in October of 2008, the Boston Globe reported that Target agreed, without admitting wrongdoing, to pay $1.7 million in costs, civil penalties and restitution for scanner errors.

Eliminating Unit Pricing May Save Business But Could Cost Consumers Millions


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