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County Probe Finds 43% of Local Stores Overcharge Consumers

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Aired 4/19/09

San Diego County is warning shoppers to double-check receipts during the busy back-to-school shopping season. A county inspection reveals nearly half of more than 500 stores overcharged customers last year. KPBS reporter Andrew Phelps has more.

County inspectors scanned more than 17,000 items at stores across San Diego. 43 percent of the stores they surveyed overcharged on at least one item. That figure is down from past years.

San Diego County's agriculture commissioner, Bob Atkins, says it's problem of human error -- not dishonesty.

Atkins : Stores are very competitive, and so they try to compete through the offerings of special-reduction sales. And while it's easy to change the information in the computer system, it's more difficult to maintain those shelf tags or the item prices.

Atkins does pay close attention to patterns of overcharging. He says the county prosecuted six of those cases in the last fiscal year.

Andrew Phelps, KPBS News.

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