Scanner Law (Shopping Reform Act) Violation – Meijer, North Muskegon

MEIJER FORCES THEIR CUSTOMERS TO RETURN TO THE STORE TO GET THEIR SCANNER LAW BONUS.

I was shopping at Meijer, North Muskegon, Michigan today at approx. 1:00 a.m.  I was shopping for camping gear for my son’s school camping trip.  I shopped for and purchased a small flashlight.  It had a “key chain” attached, and it was in a box in which about 16 small lights fit into 16 small circle holes (the same circumference as the flashlight) with Styrofoam underneath so that when they were inserted into the holes, the face of the light would not get damaged.  The box had a backboard that said “Northern Lights” on it.  The price displayed directly below the item:  “NORTHERN LIGHTS 6 LED KEYCHAIN LIGHT 3.99 price drop 2.99 save 1.00 KEYCHAIN LIGHT.”

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I finished shopping and went through the automatic self-checkout lane and when I was finished and had taken my bag off the scale, I stopped to check my receipt to make sure that everything I purchased rang up correctly.  The flashlight had rung up for $4.99.  I went back to check the rack, product and price displayed for that item and determined that I had been overcharged.  I thought about bringing the price display sticker back with me to the checkout lane clerk, in order to save time, however, since I would have had to tug on it quite a bit, I decided to leave it there.  (She later told me that it would have been acceptable for me to rip it off and bring it to her since she now was having to leave her station and anyone needing her help would be forced to wait.)  I thought I could not be mistaken about the price because the special box that had all the flashlights above the display sticker had the name “NORTHERN LIGHTS” across the box and the price display sticker had the words “NORTHERN LIGHTS” and “KEYCHAIN LIGHT” on it.

When I went back to the clerk and notified her of the overcharge, she and I walked back to look at the display.  She moved all the flashlights in the boxes (two separate boxes) of the kind I had purchased over to the left and crowded out what had been there (small lantern-looking LED flashlights).  Now the flashlights of the kind I had purchased were all moved (pushed) so that they were over a price display sticker that said $4.99, but now two different kinds of flashlights that looked very different from each other, were there instead of just the lantern looking lights as when I was making my choice of purchase.  I pointed out that now that she had moved everything, it appeared that there was no longer any product in the area where the price had been displayed as a “price drop”, i.e. where my item had been.  She said I was correct – nothing fit the bill of that price display.

We walked to a cash register and she called someone.  A young man came over.  I understood from our conversation that he was the grocery manager.  With his approval, she started to give me my overcharge.  I said I want the scanner law bonus too and she said that if I wanted that, I had to come back tomorrow.  I said that I want the difference in the price displayed and the overcharge now.  She said that she did not recommend that I take the difference now because it will look like I got my scanner law reward and when I return, I may not be able to get the bonus to which I was entitled.  I said that I should be able to walk away with my money back that I was overcharged now without any future problem.  I explained that this is because I went shopping and accepted an offer to buy the flashlight for $2.99 and I ended up paying $2.00 more than that, so I should get that back regardless of the scanner law bonus.  She said that I was definitely entitled to the money back, but that if she gave it to me now, I risk not getting the reward.

The clerk explained that the receipt would ring up so it looked like I was taken care of as far as my scanner law rights were concerned, and she did not recommend it.  I said that I didn’t understand why it would be that way and that it was interesting to me because I would think that I would get a second receipt now, that showed the price difference without affecting my right to the bonus.  She said that it wouldn’t work that way – it just wouldn’t show up that way on the receipt; and the manager was nodding his head in agreement.  I said that I was interested in this protocol, particularly because I am a lawyer. I said that I know a little about the scanner law and I would recommend that Meijer didn’t do that because it exposes them to necessary risk / liability, but that I would take their advice.

I also asked them if they wanted my name and phone number to get with me regarding my rights and they said no. They explained that I would have to return to the store if I wanted the refund and bonus because Customer Service is not open and they were not allowed to take care of it themselves.

As I was leaving, I asked if they were going to save the price display sticker or could I take a photo of it.  To my surprise, they told me that I could take it.

Discussion:  In this case, I am forced to return to the store to procure that which I am entitled to now.  Forcing me to return to the store effectively nullifies the bonus because I have to spend the time (time is money) and gas to do so. This time and money would be additional to the 25 minutes I have already spent at the store investigating the matter. It is my assertion that the 48-hour time clock for the investigation period was triggered at the time I notified the clerk of the overcharge. Meijer now has 48 hours to provide me with the difference and bonus.  Furthermore, in order to facilitate the timely payment, I asked them if they wanted my name, however, they did not take me up on that opportunity and pushed the burden on me to return to the store.

I could decide not to return to the store (what if I was from out of town?) and it should not affect my rights under the scanner law. If they do not fix their mistake within 48 hours, I could write to them requesting the $250.00 + attorney fees and/or take them to court.

It is interesting the way that the different stores interpret and administer the law.

Disclaimer:  This is my version of what occurred, none of which has been proven in a court of law as fact.

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