COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Dollar General stores across Ohio temporarily shut down Friday morning, and workers, the company’s corporate office and the state’s attorney general all provided different reasons for why.
NBC4 checked multiple stores in the Columbus metro area. Workers at the Clintonville location said they received a call from Dollar General’s corporate office telling them to close. They did not know a reason or timeline for when they would reopen.
The store in Westerville, however, had more of an explanation on a sign. While there were no workers in sight inside of the Dollar General, the sign on the door explained it was “temporarily closed for inventory,” and would “open at 11:30.”
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who sued Dollar General in November, said he knew why the stores were closing.
“[They] are shutting down to re-tag all their shelf prices — exactly the reason we sued them,” Yost wrote on Twitter. “Glad to see this first step — but we are going to insist on the court order to enforce continued compliance with Ohio’s market fairness laws.”
NBC4’s sister station in Youngstown also discovered closures, and their explanation lined up with what Yost thought. Employees at three stores in that region told WKBN that Dollar General’s corporate office closed the stores so workers could perform price changes.
Later, at 1 p.m., the Dollar General Corporation Public Relations team responded with its own explanation for the closures, as well as an update on its storefronts.
“Dollar General closed select stores this morning to address an overnight systems error,” a spokesperson wrote. “This issue has been resolved and all impacted stores are now open to continue serving our customers. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
Yost’s lawsuit preceding the store closures focused on what he called deceptive pricing practices at Dollar General. With 12 different consumer complaints in hand, his office accused the company’s stores of listing items at a certain price on shelves, but sometimes charging more or double at the register. Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano took legal action of his own in December after Yost sued the month prior. His inspectors found pricing discrepancies at eight out of 10 stores checked, and placed stickers warning of overcharging on their cash registers.
The Dollar General corporate office and its legal team responded on Jan. 9 with a motion to dismiss the lawsuit from the state. Court records show Dollar General followed up with a repeated motion to dismiss on Thursday, and claimed the state showed no proof with its accusations. Further, the defense added that overcharging at its stores is actually legal.
“The allegations are so vague and ambiguous that Dollar General cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading with any substantive value,” wrote Kimberly E. Ramundo, an attorney representing Dollar General. “The alleged price discrepancies are not actionable under the [Consumer Sales Practices Act] because they are governed by a separate statutory regime, which not only permits price discrepancies but also subjects them to regulatory oversight.”
Dollar General also objected to Yost’s earlier request for a restraining order against Dollar General, which would force them to charge the prices advertised on stores’ shelves. A Butler County judge will consider whether or not to grant that restraining order in a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.