Stores can't get their prices right


You're standing there while a store cashier is ringing up your purchase, and you see that the price you're being charged is wrong. Or... maybe you're not paying attention and so you never see that the price is wrong. Little did you know that you're probably being over- or under-charged on a regular basis when you go shopping.

Data from state price-accuracy inspections shows that 38% of Wisconsin stores failed their tests in the last two years. In order to pass, a store must charge customers the correct price (not a penny off) on at least 98% of products.

Most of the errors detected in stores were of a relatively small magnitude, amounting to only a few dollars and a small percentage of purchases. Of a total of 48,000 products price-tested in the last two years by state investigators, though, 4% had incorrect pricing.

Investigators say that the price problems are usually unintentional – computers aren't updated to reflect sale prices, or store personnel forget to remove a sale sign after a promotion ends.

But the dollars can add up. Watch your purchases carefully, especially if you're budget conscious. With post-holiday sales right around the corner, you want to make sure you're getting the correct discounts on your purchases.

Forensic accountant Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations through her company, Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners honored Tracy as the 2007 winner of the prestigious Hubbard Award and her first book, Essentials of Corporate Fraud, will be on bookshelves in March 2008.