COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio’s attorney general and the Franklin County auditor are calling out Dollar General for allegedly deceiving customers.
Since NBC4 first reported about pricing discrepancies at the discount chain, which owns hundreds of stores across Ohio, more customers have come forward with complaints that they were charged higher prices than what was displayed on store shelves.
Inspectors with Auditor Michael Stinziano’s office visited 10 Dollar General stores in Franklin County Monday, and discovered similar pricing discrepancies at eight of them.
“Our team talked to the managers that were there,” Stinziano said. “They were given the notice that we give to all entities.”
Karen, a retired teaching assistant living in Clintonville, saw NBC4’s reporting on Stinziano’s findings and realized something similar had happened to her at the store she’d relied on for years.
“I enjoyed the bargains. I’m looking out to penny pinch everywhere I can. So it was one of my favorite stores, up until recently,” said Karen, who asked to go only by her first name. “The last two times caused me to stop going there. I feel bad about it.”
Karen said the first time she was overcharged for an item, it was on the wrong shelf. The next time she shopped at Dollar General in August, she decided to pay close attention to the prices on the shelves.
“I asked the employee who was in the aisles to scan just about everything that was in my cart. And in that process he said, ‘You know, everything on this shelf – every price on this shelf is not necessarily accurate because we don’t have enough manpower to change the prices,’” Karen said.
NBC4 visited four Dollar General stores in and around Columbus, after the auditor’s office alerted managers to the pricing errors, and identified issues at two stores.
In one location, a can of Spaghetti-O’s advertised as $1.50 on the shelf rang up for $2.25. At another, a box of granola bars said to cost $3.50 on the shelf rang up for $3.85, and a bottle of body wash with a $2.00 price tag cost $2.25.
Inspectors with the auditor’s office will re-visit the same Dollar General stores Monday to see if they’ve fixed the problem.
Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit this week in Butler County claiming the Tennessee-based company deceived customers using bait-and-switch tactics, in violation of Ohio’s consumer protection laws. Yost’s office said it has received pricing complaints from Dollar General customers in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Highland, Lucas, Madison, Richland, Summit and Trumbull counties.
“This is appalling behavior and should be answered for in a court of law,” Yost said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. “If you see this happening in a store near you, let my office know. We’re here to protect Ohioans from being ripped off.”
Yost’s complaint follows a similar lawsuit against Dollar General filed in Vermont, which resulted in the company paying a $1.75 million settlement to the state in 2019.
Dollar General did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Anyone noticing issues with prices at Dollar General can contact the Attorney General’s office at www.ohioprotects.org, or 800-282-0515.