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I-TEAM: Area Dollar General stores continue to fail inspections amid price swapping accusations

ENGLEWOOD — The Montgomery County Auditor is finding that many Dollar General stores are charging customers higher prices at the register than what are listed on the store shelves.

The Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost first put the spotlight on Dollar General a couple weeks ago when his office filed a lawsuit against the company in Butler County because the county auditor documented price problems at stores.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: I-Team: Half of Montgomery County Dollar General stores fail price inspections, county auditor says

News Center 7 spoke with Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith. He said the latest round of inspections done by his team found that 22 of 32 Dollar General stores in Montgomery County failed an inspection. That’s close to a 70 percent failure rate.

The auditor’s office inspected 23 Family Dollar stores and found that 10 of those failed inspections.

The inspections consist of testing 50 items. If more than one item doesn’t match the sale price, the store fails.

“This is not just one or two items, they’re failing double digits, it is pretty significant, which is really concerning,” Keith said.

This week, News Center 7′s I-Team sent one of our photographers into a Dollar General in Englewood. He selected eight items in the store and recorded the price listed for each item on the shelves as he pick them up.

After checking out, our team compared the prices on the receipt to those listed on the selves and found that four out of the eight items rang up higher at the register. Two items, duck tape and a USB connector, were scanned significantly lower at the register. Only two items rang up as the correct price.

The I-Team spoke with a Brookville woman who said she spoke up after noticing overcharging on a Dollar Store receipt and seeing our previous reports, but the clerk on her second trip into the store didn’t want to hear about price differences between the shelf and at the register. That employee called a second employee up front.

>> RELATED: Family Dollar sued by Attorney General over alleged deceptive pricing

“I said, ‘That still says the same price.’ She said, ‘It is what it is.’ I said, ‘Well you gotta give what it is, you guys have been on the news,’” the woman told the I-Team.

That was then she claimed things got ugly. The woman claimed at that point a customer behind her cussed at her and told her to shop somewhere else. When she responded to the customer, the employees threatened her.

“And they told me, if I didn’t leave the store right away, they were going to call police, so I left the store,” the woman, who asked to not be identified, said.

Keith said he believes some of the problems with prices not matching can be blamed on employee turnover and staffing shortages, but that the prices need to be accurate.

“Regardless of the reason, it is expected to be right. We expect the retailer, and the consumer expects the retailer, to do right by them,” Keith said.

The auditor’s office told the I-Team that inspectors revisit the stores that fail sometime within 30 days after that first visit. If a store fails the inspection three times, it can be referred to a hearing with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which has the authority to issue fines to retailers that are not in compliance. Fines start at $500, then go to $2,500 and then $10,000.

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