‘Deceptive pricing’: Ohio AG sues Dollar General

The Ohio Attorney General's Office sued Dollar General Corp, alleging the retail chain is...
The Ohio Attorney General's Office sued Dollar General Corp, alleging the retail chain is violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, listing false prices on items and engaging in bait advertising.(Provided by the Butler County Auditor's Office)
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 5:54 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:20 AM EDT
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HAMILTON, Ohio (WXIX) - After receiving consumer complaints from multiple counties, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Tuesday he is taking Dollar General Corp. to court for allegedly advertising goods for one price on shelves and 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 said in a news 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.”

Filed in Butler County Common Pleas Court, the lawsuit says Dollar General is violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, listing false prices on items and engaging in “bait advertising.”

Yost is asking the court to block Dollar General from continuing the practice, fine them $25,000 per offense and require them to pay damages to customers.

“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.”

Ohioans who suspect unfair business practices should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

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.

What’s more, the Attorney General’s Office received 12 complaints from March 2021 to August 2022, detailing similar unfair and deceptive practices by Dollar General stores in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Highland, Lucas, Madison, Richland, Summit and Trumbull counties.

One consumer reported a Dollar General in Franklin County listed shampoo at $1 on the shelves but charged double that amount at the register.

In certain instances, consumers alleged that even after they pointed out price discrepancies, the stores would not change the price.

The Dollar General store on Hamilton Eaton Road store in Hamilton had the highest number of pricing errors: 15 out of 17 items checked ringing up different prices for an 88.2% fail rate, according to the auditor’s office.

Last week, the auditor’s office provided examples of pricing errors at Dollar General including:

2614 Millville Oxford Road in Oxford

  • A six-pack of Diet Coke had a shelf price of $4.00 but scanned at $5.25
  • Tombstone Frozen Cheese Pizza had a shelf price of $4.50 but scanned at $5.75
  • Snapple Apple had a shelf price of $1.00 but scanned at $1.50

1425 Millville Road store

  • Nestle Coffee Mate creamer had a shelf price of $2.00 but scanned at $4.35
  • Hefty solo cups had a shelf price of $4.25 but scanned at $5.95
  • Purdue Chicken Strips had a shelf price of $7.95 but scanned at $10.75
  • Pillsbury Grands biscuits had a shelf price of $3.00 but scanned at $3.75

All of the pricing errors were in the customers’ favor at one of the stores: College Corner Pike in Oxford, according to the auditor’s office.

Last week, when FOX19 NOW first reported pricing concerns at Dollar General stores, employees at multiple locations around the county repeatedly referred FOX19 NOW to Dollar General’s corporate offices.

We emailed and called the company’s media representative but did not get a response. We will try to reach them again for comment, this time on the Ohio Attorney General’s lawsuit.

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

Dollar General reached a $1.75 million settlement in 2019 with the state of Vermont for violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act, according to a release from Vermont’s Attorney General’s Office.

Under the settlement, Dollar General resolved claims that it sold products that were advertised on the shelf at a lower price than the price at the register, even after being told at least 50 times by state inspectors from the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets to correct the pricing inaccuracies.

Butler County’s auditor’s office performed store inspections at the stores here after receiving a complaint letter from St. Clair Township resident William Anderson, according to the news release.

The 73-year-old man reported the Dollar General store at 950 S. Main Street in Hamilton had a sign posted by the management: “Prices cannot be changed at the register. All prices are final,” the news release states.

Both Yost and Roger Reynolds, Butler County’s longtime auditor, are both running for re-election in separate races on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Yost is a statewide candidate facing Democrat Jeff Crossman of Parma.

Democrat Mike Dalesandro of Oxford Township is challenging Butler County’s incumbent auditor.

Reynolds was endorsed earlier this year by the Butler County Republican Party despite facing a criminal case. He ran unopposed in the May Republican primary and won.

At the request of Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser, Yost assigned a special prosecutor from his office to oversee a public corruption investigation into Reynolds, 53, of Liberty Township.

Reynolds is scheduled to go on trial on Dec. 12 following an indictment on six charges related to his elected position.

There are four felonies: bribery and three counts of unlawful interest in a public contract; and two misdemeanors: unlawful use of authority and conflict of interest, according to the Bill of Particulars.

Reynolds could face up to seven years and six months in prison if convicted on all charges, Butler County’s sheriff has said.

Reynolds had pleaded not guilty.

He and his attorney have repeatedly called the charges false and politically motivated.

A special commission appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court’s chief justice declined to suspend Reynolds from his elected office, concluding the allegations “are not sufficiently related to the performance and duties of his office” to warrant it.

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