NEW JERSEY – State officials have announced that Dollar General Corp. has agreed to pay $1.2 million to resolve allegations of overcharging customers.
The Tennessee-based retailer, which has 186 stores in New Jersey, violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”) and Weights and Measures Act (“WMA”). According to the State, Dollar General sold a variety of merchandise that scanned at the cash register for higher prices than what was posted on the shelf.
The Division’s Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) pricing inspections of 58 New Jersey stores in November 2022 and February 2023 found more than 2,000 instances in which the price charged at the register for a particular product was higher than the posted price, in some cases as much as $5.95 higher.
“New Jersey, under the leadership of Governor Murphy, has demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting consumers from unfair practices that disproportionately burden low- and moderate-income New Jerseyans,” Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said. “This settlement advances those efforts by imposing a significant civil penalty against a national retailer for engaging in pricing practices that deceived and defrauded New Jersey residents.”
Prior OWM inspections of Dollar General stores statewide from 2018 to 2022 have led to a total of $43,678 in assessed fines against the retailer for pricing violations.
“Dollar General claims to provide everyday essentials at affordable prices in communities often underserved by other retailers, but time and time again the chain has been caught overcharging customers through deceptive pricing tactics,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “New Jersey is committed to ensuring transparency and fairness in its marketplace. Today we hold Dollar General accountable for disregarding our consumer protection laws and unlawfully boosting its profits at the expense of consumers who can least afford it.”
In addition to paying a $1.18 million civil penalty and reimbursing the Division’s investigative costs and attorney’s fees, the settlement requires Dollar General to make changes to its business practices to prevent future violations.
Those changes, contained in a Consent Order filed with the Division, require Dollar General to:
• Comply with all applicable state and federal laws and not engage in any unconscionable business practices or pricing violations as prohibited by the CFA and the WMA.
• Ensure that all employees in New Jersey Dollar General stores who have pricing responsibilities participate in pricing training within 90 days of this agreement.
• Conduct internal audits for a period of three years, such that each New Jersey Dollar General store is audited at least once a year and that an audit revealing overcharge errors in more than 2% of the products sampled at any one store shall constitute a failed audit.
• Within ten business days of a failed audit, submit to the Division the report of the failed audit and a corrective action plan describing how Dollar General intends to prevent future pricing inaccuracies at the store location that failed the audit.
• Retain all reports and records of every internal employee training session and every internal audit for a period of three years and provide them to the Division upon request.