FOX19 Investigates: Stores' inaccurate checkout scanners

SPRINGDALE, OH (FOX19) - It's about the last thing a store manager wants to see during the busy holiday season --- a county inspector here to check the accuracy of their checkout scanners. But they can't get out of it.

When chief inspector Tom Woods or one of his colleagues show-up, store managers have to let them go through the aisles, picking items at random.

"We just show-up, which I know it's very busy this time of year," Woods said. "It is their season. But at the same time, this is the best time for us to get a really accurate picture of how they're going to do."

His job is to make sure shoppers are getting the deal they were promised in the aisle when the item's barcode is scanned at the checkout counter.

FOX19 caught-up with him at the Target store on East Kemper Road in Springdale. Out of the 100 sale items that Woods chose at random, two didn't ring-up correctly. One was actually in favor of the customer, the other in favor of the store. But both count because the scanner is supposed to be accurate in all instances. If a store gets three or more item prices wrong, Woods and his team come back in about a month for a re-inspection.

Luckily for this Target store's managers, they passed.

FOX19 has gone through more than 100 pages of records from the Hamilton County Auditor's Office, the agency that employs Woods and the other inspectors, to see which stores are most inaccurate. What caught our eye:

  • The CVS at 3086 Madison Road in Cincinnati rang-up an item on October 31 that was supposed to cost $5.49 at a rather inflated price of $649.00.
  • A Kroger at 3609 Warsaw Avenue had the most scanner mistakes of any store in Cincinnati. Its scanners got the prices wrong on 19 items --- all in favor of the store.
  • That location has since corrected most of its errors, however. County records show an inspector went back into that Kroger in November and there was only one mistake.

"The reason it's important to consumers is that they could be overcharged," said Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes. "If a store has a sale and doesn't change the scanning, it'll scan through at something different than is on the price tag."

Rhodes says his team appreciates tips from consumers who've been overcharged by a faulty store scanner. You can call-in tips at (513) 946-4112.

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