Retail Price Posting and Price Verification
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 educated 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.), product 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 (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 overcharge items. Undercharges (items scanning at a price lower than the marked or posted price) are also noted on the inspection report, but are not required to be corrected by the retailer.
Price Error Policy
On the request of a consumer, Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") § 3-3431(O)(2) requires retailers to provide a written statement of the retail seller's policies regarding errors in pricing (a.k.a. Price Error Policy). Generally, this policy explains how the retailer will respond when a customer is overcharged for an item. There are no requirements as to the content of the Price Error Policy. In the event of an overcharge, a retailer's policy may honor the lowest posted price, or the policy may honor the price as scanned at the register. Price error policies may also honor a specific price for a single item, or all like items within the retailer's inventory. It is up to the retailer to ensure that they have an established Price Error Policy, and that this policy is made available to their customers upon request. As a best practice, it is recommended that retailers post their Price Error Policy in a conspicuous location for their customers. If, during an inspection, it is identified that a retailer does not have a Price Error Policy, the Weights and Measures official will issue an Administrative Order for the retailer to establish a Price Error Policy within 30 days.
Consumer-Facing Price Displays
Arizona Administrative Code ("A.A.C.") R3-7-302(F) 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 as such where 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. Re-inspections will continue at this same frequency until the retailer passes an inspection.
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.