“Bermuda Triangle of Price Overcharging?” That’s how one store manager characterized navigating through a well-traveled, but consumer challenged, section of Westfield North County regional mall.
Three of what inspectors called the top 10 overcharging outlets in San Diego County reside within plain sight of each other in a 50-yard stretch at the Escondido mall. A fourth store whose Oceanside branch is number one in the county for overcharging also hangs around nearby just in case consumers make it through the first three stops unscathed.
A journey through the San Diego County database of overcharging retail institutions showed 25 violations at Escondido, 17 at San Marcos and three at Valley Center in the last two years.
Escondido featured three of the top 10 overcharging retailers at the North County Fair Bermuda Triangle. A fourth member of the Top 10 was at San Marcos. Actually, several more locations at, or in the vicinity of the mall, also were guilty of county-cited price overcharges in the last two years.
Otherwise, most overcharging outlets were at convenience stores, supermarkets, gas stations and random retail stores.
More than 1,150 stores in San Diego County have been fined between $100 to $1,000 since 2009, according to county officials.
State law requires stores to be inspected about every three years. Inspectors from the San Diego County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures ensure consumers are charged the posted price. Secret shoppers from the county visit stores. Inspectors also make announced visits.
The department conducts roughly 50,000 inspections each year to make sure that all devices that scan, weigh or measure the items people buy are charging consumers accurately.
Especially egregious violators have been taken to court and paid significant fines over the practice. Target, which operates 19 San Diego County stores, paid nearly $4 million in fines for overcharging in February. A San Diego Superior Court judge in August ordered Napa Auto Parts pay $338,000 for overcharging.
Walmart never admitted any guilt but paid more than $1.4 million in a 2011 settlement. Walmart also agreed to pay an additional $3 per overcharged item in the future while selling the item at the displayed price. If the item were less than $3, customers should get one such item for free.
North County Fair’s Bermuda Triangle of overcharging, and overall county rank as broken out from the county database:
#2 H&M. More than 14.4 percent of 216 items purchased by inspectors from 2012 to 2014. More than half of inspected locations overcharged on at lest one item. The location at 200 E. Via Rancho Parkway at North County Fair overcharged six out of seven items.
#4 Brookstone overcharged on 10.6 percent of the 47 items purchased by county inspectors from 2012 to 2014. The branch with the most overcharged items was at 272 E. Via Rancho Parkway at North County Fair.
#8 Charming Charlie overcharged on 7.4 percent of the 135 items purchased by county inspectors from 2012 to 2014. The majority of overcharged occurred at the 200 E. Via Rancho Parkway, Escondido (North County Fair).
Number one was Sears, which has a store at North County Fair:
#1 Sears, 15.7 pct. of 197 items from 2012 to 2014. 19 of 31 occurred at Sears Outlet at 2505-B Vista Way, Oceanside.
And at San Marcos, rounding out the top 10:
#10 Family Dollar Store; 7.3 pct. on 55 items purchased by county inspectors from 2012 to 2014. Majority of overcharged occurred at 1230 E. Mission Road, San Marcos.
These are the stores cited by county inspectors since 2012. The bold line below gives the key to looking through the database.
31,289-SEA-SD-12/13,Carlton Hair Day Spa #1992,200 E Via Rancho Pkwy Ste 279,Escondido 92025, 2013-02-15,2013-02-20,150,2012-12-21,33.070443700168006,-117.06580019685201
36,317-SEA-SD-12/13,Pep Boys #664,855 W Mission Ave,Escondido,
47,339-SEA-SD-12/13,C Stop #5212,434 W Fifth Ave,Escondido, 92025,2013-03-11,2013-03-22,100,2013-01-31,,
75,338-SEA-SD-12/13,Vons Grocery Company #2344,351 W Felicita Ave,Escondido, 92025,2013-04-10,2013-04-16,100,2013-01-31,
84,363-SEA-SD-12/13,VP Mobil Mart,2004 E Valley Pkwy,Escondido, 92027,2013-04-23,2013-04-23,200,2013-02-27,33.138010411995332,-117.0516972511401
105,406-SEA-SD-12/13,ARCO – El Norte ARCO,450 W El Norte Parkway,Escondido, 92026,2013-05-24,2013-05-31,100,2013-03-25,33.144502857422857,-117.09754069194068
215,405-SEA-SD-12/13,”Shell, Via Rancho #68532″,105 E Via Rancho Pkwy,Escondido, 92025,2013-10-20,2013-11-01,200,2013-04-22,33.068201314199136,-117.0670573440613
243,058-PVN-SD-13/14,Sun Valley Fuel,550 N. Escondido Blvd.,Escondido, 2025,2013-11-25,2013-11-25,200,2013-08-30,33.125560034682778,-117.08728754885868
251,026-PVN-SD-13/14,Value + Express Market,337 W Mission Ave,Escondido, 92025,2013-12-05,””,100,2013-07-30,
301,521-SEA-SD-12/13,Forever 21,272 E Via Rancho Pkwy #3000,Escondido, 92025,2014-02-12,2014-02-27,200,2013-06-10,,
367,206-PVN-SD-13/14,ARCO am/pm #82937,26915 Mesa Rock Rd.,Escondido, 2026,2014-05-06,2014-05-12,100,2014-03-27,33.198238403008816,-117.12780488810675
373,138-PVN-SD-13/14,ARCO am/pm #83204,761 N. Broadway,Escondido, 92025,2014-05-12,2014-05-19,100,2013-12-18,33.129991679494218,-117.08560804426885
407,198-PVN-SD-13/14,Teavana #142,”272 E. Via Rancho Parkway, Suite 229″,Escondido, 92025,2014-05-28,2014-05-28,250,2014-01-10,
421,232-PVN-SD-13/14,ARCO am/pm #83204,761 N. Broadway,Escondido, 92025,2014-06-12,2014-06-11,100,2014-05-08,33.129991679494218,-117.0856080442688
507,033-PVN-SD-14/15,Vons Grocery Company #2156,2345 E. Valley Parkway,Escondido, 92027,2014-09-15,2014-09-18,200,2014-08-18,33.139681443317933,-117.04456782057635
527,025-PVN-SD-14/15,ARCO am/pm #83204,761 N. Broadway,Escondido, 92025,2014-10-08,2014-10-07,100,2014-08-12,33.129991679494218,-117.08560804426885
588,109-PVN-SD-14/15,Escondido Grocery Outlet,1516 E. Valley Pkwy.,Escondido, 92027,2014-12-12,2014-12-15,100,2014-10-30,33.133942833476553,-117.06142431177472
592,108-PVN-SD-14/15,ARCO am/pm #83620,2015 E. Valley Pkwy.,Escondido,
614,119-PVN-SD-14/15,Walgreens #05700,1574 E. Valley Pkwy.,Escondido, 2027,2015-01-02,2015-01-06,100,2014-11-18,33.134167575825096,-117.06001148435948
624,145-PVN-SD-14/15,Cricket Wireless,”1201 E. Valley Pkwy., Ste. B”,Escondido 92027,2015-01-21,2015-01-26,150,2014-11-18,33.130309166424446,-117.06647081321377
626,136-PVN-SD-14/15,Albertson’s #6705,1570 W. Valley Pkwy.,Escondido, 92029,2015-01-22,2015-02-02,200,2014-12-08,
627,140-PVN-SD-14/15,Active Ride Shop #1005,1230 Auto Park Way,Escondido, 92029,2015-01-22,2015-02-03,100,2014-12-08,33.110626279252763,-117.09772724640862
630,139-PVN-SD-14/15,Dick’s Sporting Goods,1200 Auto Park Way,Escondido 92029,2015-01-27,2015-01-26,200,2014-12-08,33.10906786195148,-117.09712315091446
718,220-PVN-SD-14/15,ARCO am/pm #83204,761 N. Broadway,Escondido, 92025,2015-05-04,2015-05-08,450,2015-03-02,33.129991679494218,-117.08560804426885
739,006-PVN-SD-15/16,ARCO am/pm #83204,761 N. Broadway,Escondido,92025,2015-07-16,””, 100,2015-06-29,33.12999167859256,-117.08560804426027.
40,282-SEA-SD-12/13,Circle K – Pcf # 5250,190 W San Marcos Blvd,San Marcos, 92069,2013-02-28,2013-03-05,100,2012-12-18,33.14143390195958,-117.16504375395846
155,479-SEA-SD-12/13,76 – Rancho Santa Fe 76,112 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd,San Marcos, 92078,2013-08-07,2013-08-08,100,2013-05-07,33.149642277177527,-117.19896724323554
167,504-SEA-SD-12/13,Culture Wear,153 S Las Posas Road Ste 182,San Marcos, 92078,2013-08-27,2013-09-03,300,2013-05-23,
228,497-SEA-SD-12/13,Circle K – Pcf # 5250,190 W San Marcos Blvd,San Marcos, 92069,2013-10-30,2013-11-05,100,2013-05-23,33.14143390195958,-117.16504375395846
310,104-PVN-SD-13/14,Vons Grocery Company #2174,671 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road,San Marcos, 92069,2014-03-28,2014-04-02,400,2013-11-08,
331,180-PVN-SD-13/14,Shell – San Marcos,800 S. Rancho Santa Fe Rd.,San Marcos, 92078,2014-04-22,2014-04-21,200,2014-02-14,33.130872695780631,-117.20952322375135
375,205-PVN-SD-13/14,Starbucks Coffee – C.S.U.S.M.,333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd.,San Marcos ,92078,2014-05-12,2014-05-14,200,2014-03-14,33.126653789168046,-117.15507427552117
397,212-PVN-SD-13/14,ARCO am/pm #83587,1187 W. San Marcos Blvd.,San Marcos, 92078,2014-05-22,2014-05-22,100,2014-04-10,33.133015606948256,-117.1933997060631
409,213-PVN-SD-13/14,Vons Grocery Company #2174,671 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road,San Marcos, 92078,2014-05-29,2014-06-12,300,2014-04-09,,
487,004-PVN-SD-14/15,”Family Dollar, Inc. #10232″,1230 E Mission Rd,San Marcos, 92069,2014-08-11,2014-08-11,900,2014-07-08,33.137631488932556,-117.13065705562731
506,023-PVN-SD-14/15,Vons Grocery Company #2174,671 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road,San Marcos, 92078,2014-09-15,2014-09-18,100,2014-08-06,
510,013-PVN-SD-14/15,Smart & Final #488,770 San Marcos Blvd.,San Marcos, 92069,2014-09-17,2014-09-19,100,2014-07-15,33.137114796182203,-117.1812286542644
544,038-PVN-SD-14/15,Shell – San Marcos,800 S. Rancho Santa Fe Ave.,San Marcos, 92078,2014-10-22,2014-10-21,400,2014-08-04,,
569,081-PVN-SD-14/15,Walmart Store #3494,732 Center Dr.,San Marcos, 92069,2014-11-13,2014-11-25,100,2014-10-03,33.135370311430954,-117.12261573690709
610,127-PVN-SD-14/15,Supercuts #90847,”751 Center Dr., Ste. 9-F”,San Marcos, 92069,2014-12-24,2015-01-02,200,2014-11-25,
684,203-PVN-SD-14/15,Vons #2174,671 South Rancho Santa Fe Road,San Marcos, 92078,2015-03-20,2015-03-24,100,2015-02-11,,
695,205-PVN-SD-14/15,Shell – San Marcos,800 S. Rancho Santa Fe Ave.,San Marcos 92078,2015-04-08,2015-04-06,100,2015-02-24.
115,425-SEA-SD-12/13,Harvest Farms Market,28960 Lilac Rd,Valley Center, 92082,2013-06-10,2013-06-11,100,2013-04-05,33.23606742473676,-117.05309171542777
119,424-SEA-SD-12/13,”Apro, LLC #17″,27406 Valley Center,Valley Center 92082,2013-06-12,2013-06-19,100,2013-04-05,33.208376951342117,-117.03415396982891
197,061-PVN-SD-13/14,Grangetto’s Farm & Garden Supply Co.,29219 Juba Road,Valley Center, 92082,2013-10-09,2013-10-21,100,2013-09-05,33.229280836193077,-117.02367906515408.
For those still with us, the following is provided by the county in the form of information and resources:
NOTICES REQUIRED TO BE POSTED
Attention Consumers Notice must be posted at every POS station.
Atención Consumidores Aviso debe ser colocado en cada estación de Punto de Venta.
Failed Inspection Notice must be posted when provided.
Passed Inspection Notice may be voluntarily posted at entrances.
Customers should be vigilant to protect themselves:
- Pay attention to the customer price display to make sure you are charged the correct price
- Look at your receipt before you leave the store
- Report pricing errors to store management immediately
- Ask about the store’s policy for overcharges (Sometimes the store will give you an item for free or subtract a dollar amount)
To report any overcharges, call 1-888-TRUE-SCAN (878-3722) (toll free) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Please provide the following information to enable our inspectors to accurately investigate the complaint:
- Store name, address, and city
- Date and time of occurrence
- Sale ending date, if the item is on sale
- Item or items purchased, including brand name and size as appropriate
- Location in the store, such as, regular aisle, end cap, special table display, at entrance, etc.
- Specific complaint information (i.e., shelf price stated $1.50, but store charged $1.75)
Include your name and telephone number, or name and e-mail address, to allow us to contact you with the results of our investigation. This information is kept confidential from the store location.