CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Paying attention to scanner prices at the checkout counter isn't easy, especially when you're shopping with kids -but catching errors could save you more money than you think.
Abby Hanger has 7-year-old twins, so trips to the store tend to be lively, which means she sometimes doesn't notice scanner errors until after she's left the store.
"There are times when I'll get home and I'll think how did I spend that much? How is that possible? And I'll look, and I'll realize, that was supposed to be seven dollars, and I was charged fifteen," Hanger said.
"We try to hit every single retail establishment that's got a scanner, from the coffee shop over here on Court Street, to the great big supermarket in Symmes Township," Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes said.
One of Rhodes' jobs is inspecting the accuracy of store scanners. His inspectors check prices on the shelves and tags, versus prices at the register. In their most recent testing most stores had an error rate below 2 percent, but a few were much higher.
Out of 100 items at the Walmart on Smiley Road, six scanned incorrectly. Some of those errors were big. A $60 overcharge on one item, and $54 on another - all told $126.15 in overcharges.
Inspectors found seven incorrect prices when they tested the Target on Glenway Avenue. Among them, a $70 overcharge on a Bissell Deep Clean machine. All told there were more than $134 in overcharges.
Rhodes said the problem is usually stores not updating tags to reflect newer sale prices, but since they started the scanning program he said the error rates have dropped dramatically.
"That's the nice thing about testing. Because if people know we're going to do it, they try to keep it right, and we try to keep it right, and we protect the consumer and the store owner," he said.
It's especially important to watch those prices carefully this time of year, since so many stores are running sales before the holidays.
"As a busy mom you have to rely that this guy's doing what he's supposed to do, because you're doing what you're supposed to do. It's hard," Hanger said.
If you do catch scanner errors, some stores will not only reimburse you the difference, some will give you that product for free, up to a certain dollar amount.
If a product is not scanned at the correct price at checkout, the item generally will be given to you for free or at a discount, up to a $5 price limit. Specific policies vary by store and there are some excluded products, so check with customer service at your Kroger store for details.
If customer is charged a higher price than it says on the shelf, Walmart will honor the lower price.
If a customer is charged a higher price than it says on the shelf, Target will refund the difference at the customer service desk.
If customers think an item is priced incorrectly, we encourage them to ask the cashier to double check. If it is, and not in the customer's favor, we will refund the full price and give you the item free. Our goal is 100 percent price accuracy.