Michigan’s new scanner law is designed to protect consumers

Michigan’s New Scanner Law is designed to help protect a consumer in the State of Michigan against unfair, misleading or deceptive item pricing practices.

Have you ever gone shopping in a grocery or other store and purchased a package of food or snack item because you were motivated to by the sale price? Only to learn later that the price you saw advertised was not the lower one reflected on your receipt. And further, the price difference did not merit a trip back to the store, but your frustration and annoyance was way greater than the price difference? Well, in the State of Michigan, there is help: the Michigan’s New Scanner Law, an opportunity to get your money back, plus a bonus.

In September of 2011, a new piece of legislation went into effect, the Shopping Reform and Modernization Act or more commonly referred to as the “Scanner Law,”which sort of replaced the older version of the Pricing and Advertising of Consumer Items Act. The scanner law requires stores to clearly display the price for most items on the store shelves – any item, not only food items. This may be by a sign, electronic reader, price sticker or any other method that clearly and reasonably shows the consumer the price. The price must also be displayed where the item is located.

Here are the conditions: If an automatic checkout system (scanner) charges you more than the displayed price of an item, and: 1) the transaction has been completed, and 2) you have a receipt indicating the item purchased and the price charged for it. Then: You must notify the seller that you were overcharged, within 30 days of the purchase, either in person or in writing. Within 2 days of receiving your notice, the seller may choose to refund you the difference between the amount charged and the price displayed, plus a “bonus” of ten times the difference, with a minimum of $1.00 and a maximum of $5.00. If the seller does not pay you both the refund and the bonus, you can bring a lawsuit to recover your actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorney fees up to $300.00.

Example: You are motivated to buy a large container of low-fat yogurt for the advertised, displayed price of $1.99 and later you check your receipt and notice the cashier scanned the item but your receipt reflects another price, $2.29. That’s a $0.30 difference. You have met the conditions, the transaction is complete, and you have a receipt indicating the item purchased and the price charged for it. You are now eligible to notify the seller, in person or writing. If all goes well you should get back the difference of $0.30, plus the bonus of $0.30 times ten which equals $3.00, for a total of $3.30. This could make your trip back more enjoyable; let’s hope you were really close by.

Happy Shopping!