You scan the item; the price pops up but it's a different price than the one listed on the shelf. It happens and many of us can relate. So, does the store have to honor the price you saw on the shelf?

Many states have pricing errors laws that side with you, the customer or consumer, forcing the store to give you the item at the lower price or free. North Carolina is not one of those states.

In general, there’s no federal law requiring companies to honor a price that’s wrong on the shelf.

There are laws against false or deceptive advertising, but if a company can show the pricing error was just that, an error or mistake, then it’s not false advertising.

So, what can you do?

Stephen Benjamin, Director of North Carolina’s Standard’s Division said contact them! Make a complaint about the item, have the date of purchase and they will inspect the store.

“We look for overcharges and undercharges and we record both of those,” said Benjamin.

Inspectors pick 50 to 100 items and if the store has more than two percent overcharges, they’re given a written warning and employees must fix the incorrect prices. Another inspection is done 30 days later and this time, 300 items are picked. If they fail again, they’re fined for every incorrect item.

“Could be two items, could be 400 items. We’ve had candy bars sometimes and there’s hundreds of them and it’s 15 dollars per item,” Benjamin explained.

15 dollars...per item.

Benjamin said at 12 to 16 stores in the state fail at least two inspections every year, which is down from a few years ago, when 30 to 40 stores were failing every year. Benjamin said it’s up to the store to decide what to do when a customer notices a wrong price. He recommends the store give the item to the customer at the lower price, as this is just good customer service. But, unfortunately, it’s not a requirement in North Carolina.

If you want to make a complaint against a store for pricing errors or is you suspect false advertising, contact The North Carolina Standard’s Division at 919-707-3225. If you’re in the Piedmont-Triad, call 919-707-3230. You can also find more information on their website.