Dollar General Is Being Investigated For Checkout Food Price Errors

Dollar General stores were built on bargains and discounts. In fact, the idea behind the first store ever opened — in Springfield, Kentucky in 1955, per the company's website – was that everything in stock would be priced at $1 or less. Not surprisingly, people liked this idea. Cal Turner Jr., in an excerpt from his memoir ("My Father's Business: The Small Town Values That Built Dollar General into a Billion-Dollar Company") shared by Vanderbilt Magazine, noted that the concept was so popular that the number of stores quickly grew to 29 by 1957. That number kept on growing over the next 65 years and today, there are over 17,000 stores in the U.S., according to Dollar General.

Although it was inevitable that Dollar General would have to raise some prices, the company has remained committed to offering bargain-friendly offerings, and has never truly abandoned its $1 concept. Earlier this year, for example, CNN reported that approximately 20% of all goods sold at Dollar General stores are still priced at $1 or cheaper. In September, the company reiterated that it intended to keep 20% of its goods at $1 or less, per CSP Daily News, and was considering upping that percentage to offer even more bargain food pricing.

Based on recent reports, however, customers at some Dollar General stores aren't getting bargains or discounts. What they're getting is overcharged — often by a lot.

Dollar General audit in Ohio uncovers overcharging issues

Officials in Ohio's Butler County audited 20 Dollar General stores and found numerous instances in which those shopping at the stores were charged too much for food and other items, Fox Business reports. Pricing inaccuracies of as much as 88% were uncovered, often when discounts were being offered for buying several of the same item. Additionally, the listed prices of items in-store were often increased significantly when they were rung up on cashier's registers. The man whose complaint spurred the audit — which Dollar General stores in the county flunked — acted after seeing store signage that claimed prices couldn't be altered at checkout.

This isn't the first time Dollar General has been caught overcharging its customers. According to the Seattle Times, the company forked over $1.75 million to Vermont in 2019 to deal with reports of overcharging at 22 stores in the state, including the same issue of customers being charged more at checkout than the prices that were listed in-store. In total, a whopping 362 violations were discovered from late 2013 to early 2019.

"Vermonters are going to buy food to feed their families, to take care of their kids, and this corporation was ripping them off," Vermont's Attorney General noted at the time, per the Seattle Times. The Ohio Department of Agriculture, tasked with investigating the types of pricing discrepancies found by the Butler County audit, has been alerted, Fox Business noted.