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Business & Economy

Ohio is suing Dollar General over 'deceptive' pricing

The Dollar General in Moville, Iowa, is a stone's throw from the only grocery store in town. Though the grocery has produce and fresh meats, it can't compete with Dollar General on other items.
Sue Ogrocki
/
AP
Dollar General operates more than 900 stores in Ohio.

The state of Ohio is suing Dollar General over deceptive pricing. The lawsuit filed by Attorney General Dave Yost’s office said they’re taking the chain to court for allegedly advertising goods for sale at one price on shelves, and then charging a higher price at the register.

“Everything we buy these days costs more – Ohioans can ill-afford businesses that draw people in with the promise of low prices only to deceive them at the checkout counter,” Yost wrote in an emailed release. This seems like a company trying to make an extra buck and hoping no one will notice. We’ve not only noticed but are taking action to stop it,” Yost wrote.

The release from Yost’s office said the Ohio Department of Agriculture rules permit stores to have up to a 2% error rate on overcharges. But testing done last month in Butler County by the county auditor’s Department of Weights and Measures and made available to the Attorney General’s Office found error rates ranging from 16.7% to 88.2% for 20 Dollar General stores.

Yost said the Attorney General’s Office received 12 complaints detailing similar unfair and deceptive practices by Dollar General stores in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Highland, Lucas, Madison, Richland, Summit and Trumbull counties.

Yost says one customer reporter that a Dollar General in Franklin County listed shampoo at $1 on the shelves but charged double that amount at the register. In some instances, Yost said stores workers refused to change prices when discrepancies were pointed out.

“This is appalling behavior and should be answered for in a court of law,” Yost said. “If you see this happening in a store near you, let my office know. We’re here to protect Ohioans from being ripped off.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for shoppers, fines of $25,000 per violation, and an injunction against further violations.

Dollar General, a Tennessee-based company, has operated in Ohio since 2015. It has 943 stores statewide.

The company did not immediately respond to WOSU’s requests for comment.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.