With prices higher than ever due to inflation, shoppers are looking to save a buck any way that they can. One popular method is as simple as changing where you shop, which is why dollar and discount stores are seeing increased foot traffic these days. But as more of us hit up these cheaper chains, some of them are coming under fire for problematic practices. Now, Family Dollar is facing significant backlash following a new report. Read on to find out what officials are saying is "very concerning" about the major dollar store chain.
Family Dollar has faced several problems this year.
Family Dollar hasn't had the smoothest ride over the past year. Back in January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found a number of unsanitary conditions in one of the chain's distribution facilities in West Memphis, Arkansas, including a major rodent infestation where more than 1,100 dead rodents were uncovered following a fumigation. This forced the temporary closure of more than 400 Family Dollar stores throughout six states and a massive recall of products distributed to these locations.
Then in July, Family Dollar had to issue another major recall, with the FDA stating that over 430 toiletries, hygiene products, and OTC medications had to be pulled from shelves because they were "stored outside of labeled temperature requirements" and "inadvertently shipped to certain stores" between May and June.
And now, the popular dollar store chain has another problem plaguing its stores.
The dollar store chain is now under fire for a new issue.
Family Dollar has now found itself in hot water for a different reason. On Nov. 3, the Auditor's Office in Butler County, Ohio, issued a news release warning consumers about pricing problems at the discount chain's stores. According to the alert, Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds found that all the Family Dollar stores in the county were incorrectly charging customers for products.
The agency said it had been conducting price verification checks at the 13 Family Dollar stores in Butler County since Oct. 28, and every single location failed checks with error rates ranging between 12 and 84 percent. Stores are only allowed a plus or minus 2 percent error rate to be in compliance with state standards, according to the Auditor's Office. "The two percent is calculated on the total number of items tested. If 50 items are scanned, the store can only have one item scan incorrectly," they further explained.
Several Family Dollar stores were found to be overcharging customers.
Officials found that Family Dollar shoppers were being consistently overcharged at checkout. According to the news release, one location in Hamilton, Ohio, had 21 pricing errors found among 25 items checked, and 20 of those errors were in favor of the store, "meaning the price scanned higher than the advertised price." A similar problem was found at a store in Ross, Ohio, where 18 errors out of the 20 found were in regards to customers being overcharged.
"These pricing errors are very concerning, especially at stores where nearly every error is in the store's favor," Reynolds said in a statement. "We will continue to alert the public when we uncover rampant abuse like this."
When contacted about the recent Butler County report, Kristin Tetreault, the chief communications officer of parent company Dollar Tree Inc., told Best Life that Family Dollar is "dedicated to serving the needs of [its] shoppers and providing them with great values on the products they need and want." She added, "We are committed to operational compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws."
Another major dollar store chain is being sued for overcharging.
Family Dollar is not the only dollar store under fire for pricing problems. The Butler County Auditor's Office began conducting price verification checks at the chain's stores after finding that all 20 Dollar General stores in the county had failed checks. According to an Oct. 27 news release, Dollar General locations in Butler County started being inspected following a consumer complaint, and these inspections found "double-digit error rates" of up to 88 percent at some stores.
The state of Ohio has now sued Dollar General Corp. for these pricing errors. According to a Nov. 1 news release from the Ohio Attorney General's Office (AGO), the lawsuit was filed after "consumer complaints from multiple counties" about Dollar General allegedly listing lower prices for products on shelves and charging higher prices for them 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," Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement. "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."
Officials are also urging shoppers to watch out for pricing errors at dollar stores amid rising concerns. "Consumers should not be saying, 'Oh, it doesn't matter, it's 50 cents here or a dollar there.' No, that's your money and you deserve to keep that money," Sally Greenberg, the executive director of the National Consumers League, told WKRC in Butler County. "If it doesn't match up with what was on the shelf, the store should give you the price that is listed on the shelf."