The Weights and Measures Services Division conducts price posting and price verification inspections at retail locations. These inspections are conducted on a routine basis as well as in response to consumer complaints.
NOTE: The Weights and Measures Services Division does not regulate price posting or price accuracy at non-retail locations such as restaurants or locations that offer consumer services (e.g. dry cleaners, repair shops, etc.). If you believe you are the victim of consumer fraud, you may file a consumer complaint with the Arizona Attorney General.
Price Posting inspections are conducted to ensure that consumers are presented with pricing information to assist in making an informed decision when purchasing items at retail stores. During an inspection, Weights and Measures officials inspect a random sample of items that are offered or exposed for sale to ensure that each item has a price marked or posted in a conspicuous manner. The price posting sample ranges from 125 items for small retail stores (e.g. convenience stores) to 250 items for large retail stores (e.g. grocery and department stores). A retail store will fail a price posting inspection if less than 98% of the items sampled are missing a posted price. The retailer must correct all price posting violations prior to the end of the inspection to prevent the issuance of a Stop-Sale Order for any unpriced items.
Price Posting Exceptions
Price posting is not required for items that are available for sale only with the assistance of a salesperson. In these cases, items may be displayed without a posted price at a manned service counter. Examples of where this exception may apply are products displayed for sale behind the checkout counter (e.g. tobacco products, liquor, etc.), products sold at a bakery, deli, or meat counter at a grocery store, or department store counters that sell cosmetics, fragrances, and/or jewelry. If a retailer chooses to post prices for items sold at manned service counters, the prices must be posted in accordance with Weights and Measures pricing regulations, and these prices would also be subject to Price Verification inspections if applicable.
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 sale discounts may affect the accuracy of UPC scans, which may result in a consumer overpaying or underpaying for a product. Price Verification inspections are conducted to test the accuracy of UPC databases. During an inspection, Weights and Measures officials select a random sample of items displayed for sale for verification within the retailer's UPC database. The price verification sample ranges from 25 items at small retail stores to 50 items at large retail stores. The marked or posted price of each item in the sample is compared with the price produced by the UPC database when the UPC is scanned. This comparison is performed either at the checkout register or by using the location's hand-held inventory scanner. A retail store will fail a price posting inspection if more than one item in the sample scans at a price higher than the marked or posted price (a.k.a. overcharge). The retailer must correct all price overcharges prior to the end of the inspection to prevent the issuance of a Stop-Sale Order for any overcharged items.
Price Error Policy
Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") § 3-3431(O)(2) states, "On the request of a consumer, a retail seller shall provide a written statement of the retail seller's policies regarding errors in pricing". This means that a retailer must maintain a written price error policy. Below are some frequently asked questions about price error policies:
Who needs a price error policy?
Any retailer that uses UPC scanning technology, SKU numbers, or similar systems and/or technologies to charge customers for a sale.
What is a price error policy?
A price error policy is a written statement that informs a customer about the action that a retailer will take if the customer is charged a price higher than the posted price for that item at the time of checkout.
What needs to be included in the written price error policy?
Arizona law does not dictate a particular price error policy. It merely states that you must have a price error policy. Most retailers already follow a policy, although it may not be written. Listed below are some examples of pricing error policies used in the Arizona marketplace in the event that a customer is overcharged for an item:
- In the event of an overcharge, the customer will be charged the lowest posted price.
- In the event of an overcharge, the customer will receive the overcharged item for free.
Again, these are just examples of price error policies. Ultimately it is up to the retailer to determine the policy that is appropriate for their business.
Does the price error policy need to be posted?
No. While it is a best practice to post the price error policy in a conspicuous location, Arizona law only requires that this policy is provided in writing to the customer upon request. Some retailers have their price error policy:
- Filed in a policy manual
- Posted near each check-out register or available in the cashier's drawer
- Posted throughout the store as a marketing tool
- Posted with other policies, such as refund or exchange policies, at a customer service desk
The most important thing is that each employee knows and follows the price error policy consistently and is able to provide the written policy to the customer upon request.
Who should write our price error policy?
Anyone authorized to make policies for your business such as management or the legal department.
Does the price error policy have to be signed or on a letterhead?
No, the statute does not require a specific format.
Have a question about price error policies?
Contact the Weights and Measures Services Division at (602) 542-4373 or [email protected].
Consumer-Facing Price Displays
Arizona Administrative Code ("A.A.C.") R3-7-402(A)(6) requires retail sellers to display the price of each item purchased visibly to the public at each check-out location. In other words, when a customer is at the check-out register, they must be able to see the price of each item scanned by or input into, the check-out register to allow the customer an opportunity to inquire about a specific price if it does not appear as expected. Although stand-alone consumer-facing electronic price displays are common in the marketplace, other acceptable consumer-facing may include a register display or computer screen that is oriented such that both the register operator and consumer can view the information on the display or screen. If during an inspection, it is identified that a retailer does not have a consumer-facing price display, the Weights and Measures official will issue an Administrative Order for the retailer to obtain and install a consumer-facing price display within 30 days.
In the event that a retailer fails a price posting or price verification inspection, the Weights and Measures official will conduct a re-inspection of the same type at the same retailer on or after 7 calendar days. If the location fails more than one re-inspection, Weights and Measures officials may attempt to address continued non-compliance with location management and/or corporate/owner representatives.
Price Posting Guide
The Weights and Measures Services Division developed a Price Posting Guide intended to assist retailers with complying with pricing regulations. The Price Posting Guide is provided as a downloadable PDF file below.