Retail Price Posting and Price Verification

Universal Product Code (UPC) barcodes are utilized by a variety of retail businesses. Although UPC barcodes are convenient, they rely on a computer database to ensure that the price associated with each UPC is recorded accurately. Price changes and product sales can sometimes affect the accuracy of UPC scans, which may result in a consumer overpaying or underpaying for a product. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each retailer to ensure that prices are advertised, displayed, and recorded accurately.

The Weights and Measures Services Division (WMSD) conducts periodic price verification inspections to determine if retail sites are in compliance. Here's what your company can do to ensure that you pass the test.


Internal Program Ideas

  1. Designate a scanning coordinator for your store.

  2. Develop procedures for all forms of pricing. Include ways to ensure that the price in your computer matches the posted or advertised price.

  3. Develop and have available to customers a written pricing error policy. Make sure that all employees know your policy for pricing errors and what to do if a customer experiences an error. Some retailers post the policy by each checkout register and near the employees' time clock.

  4. Develop training programs for store employees that stress your commitment to accurate pricing.

  5. Make it easy for employees to fix scanning errors.

  6. Give one employee responsibility for the accuracy of prices of all Direct Sale Delivery (DSD) items. Make sure DSD vendors check with your representative before pricing items.

  7. Conduct a random inspection every week. Make sure all prices are checked several times a year. Focus on sale items to ensure the price is marked.

  8. Contact WMSD to schedule an in-house training session. 

  9. Obtain a copy of NIST Handbook 130 for price verification procedure requirements.


What to Expect From a Division Inspection

Step 1: Regulatory Bill of Rights

WMSD investigators are required to identify themselves and explain the purpose of their visit. These and other requirements are stated in the Regulatory Bill of Rights (A.R.S. § 41-1009 as amended by SB 1034, 1998 Regulatory Reform).

Step 2: Inspection

A WMSD investigator will ask if the manager or store representative would like to participate. This enables you to understand the inspection process and to correct any violation to avoid a reinspection.

Step 3: Test Procedure

When a UPC Inspection is conducted, the following procedure is used:

  1. The type of inspection will either be:

  2. Stratified (one "department" of a store, i.e., cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, toys) or

  3. Complete store audit through a random selection process

  4. 25 to 50 items will be selected as outlined in the NIST Handbook 130 sampling requirements.

  5. The display price of each item selected will be noted.

  6. All items will be brought to the checkout register.

  7. The Division field Investigator will verify that the display price equals the scanned price.

Step 4: Computation of Failure Rate

Failure rate % = number non-compliant items divided by sample size.

Step 5: Accuracy Rate

A retail establishment must achieve and maintain a 98% accuracy rate, per the formula described above, in order to be in compliance.

Step 6: Enforcement Actions

  1. UPC violations must be corrected on site by store personnel, or;

  2. The WMSD investigator will create an Administrative Order, and;

  3. Place items off sale, and;

  4. Recommend civil penalty on a departmental form.

If the number of items found to be in violation of A.R.S. § 3-3431 requires MORE THAN 30 MINUTES to correct, the items will be placed off sale and the inspection will end. Store personnel will be advised to notify the office when corrective action has been completed. A follow up inspection will then be created or the investigator will be directed to return to the store and release the product(s).

Important Documents

Price Posting Guide 2017.pdf Download
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