As shoppers get ready to rush retail outlets during the post-Thanksgiving shopping spree, county officials want to remind them to take a close look at receipts to avoid overcharges.

Shoppers are legally entitled to pay only a store’s lowest advertised or posted price for any item, according to officials with the county Department of Weights and Measures. Inspectors have found that overcharge errors do happen and often involve items with special promotional offers, sales, and markdowns for which price information has not been updated in a store’s scanner system.

Holiday shopping presents many opportunities for those errors to occur. Overcharges can be easily missed. Officials encourage shoppers to keep a close eye on prices while at the checkout register and to report errors to the store’s manager or customer service desk before leaving the store.

Shoppers who are overcharged should contact the Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures at (800) 655-2900 or may submit a complaint by logging on to: http://acwm.co.la.ca.us/scripts/scanform.cfm

All complaints will be investigated the same day received or the next business day. It is not necessary to send receipts. Callers should be prepared to provide the following information:

• A complete description of the item or items;

• The shelf price or advertised price;

• The price scanned at the checkout register;

• The date the overcharge occurred.

The Buyer Beware Program was established in February 2002 after a sampling of price accuracy at stores throughout Los Angeles County revealed that overcharges occurred at two-thirds of the locations. The program requires all stores with automated price look-up systems to register with the Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures and provides for routine inspections of stores to monitor price accuracy. Since implementation of the program, price scanner accuracy has improved due to stringent enforcement by undercover inspectors, county officials said.

Established in 1881, weights and measures protects consumers and the environment through early detection and exclusion of dangerous, invasive insect and plant pests; enforcement of laws and regulations regarding safe pesticide use; operation of an environmental toxicology laboratory; clearance of weeds, brush, and debris from vacant land to reduce fire hazards; inspection and verification of accuracy of scales, meters, price scanners, and quantity labeling on packaged goods.

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