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Over 700 city supermarkets violate pricing rules: Study

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In many supermarkets citywide, the cost at the checkout is different from the price tag — that is, if you can find a price tag.

The city Department of Consumer Affairs just completed a yearlong study of more than 700 grocery stores, finding more than half in violation of pricing regulations.

Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz said the compliance rate was 48 percent citywide, but only 37 percent in the poorest parts of the Bronx.

But bodegas had a far better record — 82 percent — than supermarkets.

The department issued a total of $380,000 in fines against stores that the agency said had violated regulations.

Mintz said that of the 700 stores inspected, one out of every three charged incorrect prices at the checkout register, half did not put price tags on merchandise and many failed to put “last date of sale” notices on perishable items.

Inspectors also found some stores were charging tax on items that were non-taxable.

The department said there were more than 12,000 supermarkets in the five boroughs.

“It’s the supermarkets’ responsibility to ensure that its products are accurately priced and its customers correctly charged, but with half the supermarkets in the city receiving violations, it is clear they are failing their customers,” Mintz said.

Mintz said he had met with supermarket representatives since the previous inspections in an effort to improve the situation, but had seen no improvement.

“I have directed our inspectors to double the number of inspections in the coming year,” Mintz said.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

Updated 6:10 pm, October 10, 2011
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