Money from Dollar General settlement going to impacted communities, but not customers’ pockets

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Attorney General Dave Yost said a major retailer wrongfully took money out of Ohioans’ pockets. Now, that money going back to the communities that were impacted.

This comes a year after NBC4 Investigates helped expose widespread issues with cash registers at Dollar General, which were frequently charging customers higher prices than those displayed on shelves.

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In November 2022, Yost sued the Tennessee-based retailer, which has nearly 1,000 stores in Ohio. In September, Dollar General agreed to a $1 million settlement in the resulting lawsuit. However, court documents show the company would not admit to the deceptive practices of which it was accused.

Yost announced Thursday that $750,000 of that settlement would be distributed to food banks across Ohio.

“So it’s a little bit tough, right? Refunds would be a dollar, or six or seven dollars,” said Yost in a videotaped statement distributed by his office. “And a lot of people — we wouldn’t be able to identify who they were that got ripped off.”

All 88 counties will get at least $1,000. The rest will be distributed based on how many stores are in each county. County auditors will have until the end of November to choose which local food banks will receive the settlement money.

“We’re happy to see the conclusion,” said Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano.

Stinziano’s office noted repeated failures in 2022 when inspecting cash registers at multiple Dollar General locations. His office eventually created a new sticker to place on registers that failed multiple inspections.

“We’re happy to report, even while the lawsuit was going on, that they became compliant,” said Stinziano during an October interview. “We appreciate when any business works with our office to make sure that when we go out and test, we are able to finally affix the sticker to say that it has passed inspection. We are always happy for the consumer that they’re gonna get the benefit.”

The settlement also contains measures to ensure Dollar General continues to charge customers the correct price.

Dollar General has not responded to multiple requests for comment following the settlement.

The remaining $250,000 from the settlement will go toward fines and reimbursing the state’s legal costs.

Stinziano urged consumers to help hold Dollar General and other businesses accountable by reaching out to their county auditor if the price is not right.

“Consumers are always those eyes on the ground. They’re the most diligent. They know how important it is to protect their pocketbook,” Stinziano said. “[The] auditor’s office plays a role, [the] AG’s office plays a role, but consumers are going to be the most important in this process.”

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