‘Bait advertising’ Ohio AG sues Family Dollar after more Butler County stores fail price checks
HAMILTON, Ohio (WXIX) - Just days after his office sued Dollar General Corp., Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued Virginia-based Family Dollar for also allegedly advertising goods at one price on shelves and charging another price, usually higher, at the checkout counter.
Both lawsuits are filed in Butler County Common Pleas Court after stores at both chains failed price verification checks conducted by the Butler County Auditor’s Office.
The AG office also received 12 similar complaints about Dollar General stores from other counties statewide.
“We’re looking not just for reimbursement, but we want a court order to make them stop doing this and to put adequate controls in place so that the price you see on the shelf is the price that they charge at the register,” Yost said Monday about the latest lawsuit against Family Dollar.
“I’m optimistic that we’ve got a good case and we’re going to get justice.”
Both lawsuits cite violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, saying that Family Dollar and Dollar General listed false prices on items and engaged in “bait advertising.”
Yost is asking the court to block both Family Dollar and Dollar General now from continuing the practice, fine them $25,000 per offenses, require them to pay damages to customers and pay all court costs.
The Family Dollar lawsuit also names Dollar Tree.
Family Dollar was purchased by Dollar Tree in 2015 to reach low- and lower-middle-income households through urban and rural locations.
Ohioans who suspect unfair business practices should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.
All 13 Family Dollar stores in the county failed with error rates between 12% to 84%, according to a news release from the auditor’s office.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture rules permit stores to have up to a 2% error rate on overcharges.
At one Family Dollar store, all four errors were undercharges – meaning the price scanned lower than it was advertised for on the shelf.
Two other stores with multiple errors ended up with one more error in the customers’ favor than the store’s favor.
However, at the Hamilton store located at 2528 Dixie Highway, there were 21 pricing errors among the 25 items checked and 20 of the errors were in the store’s favor – meaning the price scanned higher than the advertised price.
Similarly, at the Ross location at 4150 Hamilton-Cleves Road, there were 20 errors among the 25 items checked and 18 were in the store’s favor.
“These pricing errors are very concerning, especially at stores where nearly every error is in the store’s favor,” said Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds in a prepared statement.
“We will continue to alert the public when we uncover rampant abuse like this.”
A spokeswoman for Family Dollar, Kristin Tetreault, provided the following statement to FOX19 NOW:
“At Family Dollar, we are dedicated to serving the needs of our shoppers and providing them with great values on the products they need and want. We are committed to operational compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws.”
When FOX19 NOW first reported pricing concerns at Dollar General stores earlier this month, employees at multiple locations around the county repeatedly referred us to Dollar General’s corporate offices
We repeatedly emailed and called the company’s media representative but did not receive any responses.
The Dollar General store on Hamilton Eaton Road store in Hamilton had the highest number of pricing errors: 15 out of 17 items checked ringing up different prices for an 88.2% fail rate, according to the auditor’s office.
Dollar General, a Tennessee-based company specializing in household goods, has operated in Ohio since 2015. It has 943 stores statewide.
Dollar General reached a $1.75 million settlement in 2019 with the state of Vermont for violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act, according to a release from Vermont’s Attorney General’s Office.
Under the settlement, Dollar General resolved claims that it sold products that were advertised on the shelf at a lower price than the price at the register, even after being told at least 50 times by state inspectors from the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets to correct the pricing inaccuracies.
Both Yost and Roger Reynolds, Butler County’s longtime auditor, are both running for re-election in separate races in Tuesday’s election.
Yost is a statewide candidate facing Democrat Jeff Crossman of Parma.
Democrat Mike Dalesandro of Oxford Township is challenging Butler County’s incumbent auditor.
Reynolds was endorsed earlier this year by the Butler County Republican Party despite facing a criminal case. He ran unopposed in the May Republican primary and won.
At the request of Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser, Yost assigned a special prosecutor from his office to oversee a public corruption investigation into Reynolds, 53, of Liberty Township.
Reynolds is scheduled to go on trial on Dec. 12 following an indictment on six charges related to his elected position.
There are four felonies: bribery and three counts of unlawful interest in a public contract; and two misdemeanors: unlawful use of authority and conflict of interest, according to the Bill of Particulars.
Reynolds could face up to seven years and six months in prison if convicted on all charges, Butler County’s sheriff has said.
Reynolds had pleaded not guilty.
He and his attorney have repeatedly called the charges false and politically motivated.
A special commission appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court’s chief justice declined to suspend Reynolds from his elected office, concluding the allegations “are not sufficiently related to the performance and duties of his office” to warrant it.
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