LawRefs Customized Legal Information
Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Michigan Scanner Law Update

Michigan’s scanner law, effective September 1, 2011, is formally called the Shopping Reform and Modernization Act.   The law retains many provisions of the former Pricing and Advertising of Consumer Items Act .  The substantive change affecting consumers who watch for pricing errors is the requirement that retailers display the price in the store at the place where the item is located.  Individually marked items are no longer required.  The price may be displayed using a price sticker, sign, an electronic electronic reader, or any method that clearly conveys the price to a consumer where the item is located.

The law does not apply to:

a) Items sold by weight or volume which are not in a package or container;
b) items sold in a coin-operated vending machine;
c) prepared food intended for immediate consumption;
d) items purchased by mail or through a catalog, or which are not otherwise visible for inspection, if the price of the item is on the consumer’s written order or the bill/invoice;
e) unpackaged food items;
f) items which have a total weight of not more than 3 ounces, a total volume of not more than 3 cubic inches, and a total price of not more than 30 cents;
g) live plants;
h) live animals;
i) motor vehicles;
j) motor vehicle parts;
k) packages of 20 or fewer cigarettes;
l) greeting cards sold individually which have a readable coded price on the back of the card;
m) merchandise ordered by a consumer as a gift to be sent directly to the recipient.

If a scanner is used to charge the shopper more than, and the shopper pays more than the displayed price of a consumer item, and is given a receipt that describes the item and states the price charged, then the bounty or bonus has accrued.

Once the transaction has been completed, and the consumer has been overcharged, if the consumer wants to invoke their consumer right to the bounty, they must notify the seller of the overcharge.  The consumer does not have to do this in writing, but if they do not, they should take copious notes about the in-person notification (in order to prove to the court that notification was given).  The consumer does not have to exit the store either.  It is mandatory, however, that the consumer pay for the item in the first place.  Therefore, they should NOT notify the clerk of the error in advance.

The consumer has 30 days to notify the retailer of the overcharge / scanner law violation. Within two days of receiving that notice, the retailer may choose to refund 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 both the refund and the bonus, then they may sue to recover actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorney fees up to $300.00.

If the store does not pay upon notification, contact me! I’ll help you get your $250 (or actual damages) and they’ll pay my fee!

Note well:  If shopping at Meijer at night, they will not pay the bonus there and then because they do it through their Customer Service desk which closes in the evening.  Therefore, be prepared to provide a note with your name, address, and telephone number.  This way, after the two days lapses, the burden remains on Meijer to send the bonus to you.

Key requirements to lawsuit success:

Price must be displayed
Item is a consumer item
Item scans for more than the price displayed
Payment is made at the overcharged price
Sale is recorded by automatic checkout system
Receipt is given that describes item and states the price charged
Item is not an exempt item
Notification of overcharge is made in writing or in person
Notification of overcharge is made within 30 days
Notification of contact information, including name and address where to send the bonus
Difference and bonus is not paid within two days of notification

Discussion:

  1. I bought a bagged lettuce that was priced with a sticker of $1.40. The item rang up for $2.99. The store, Vinckers, in Armada, MI, would not give me the bounty stating that because they had priced the item they are not responsible for the scanning law. I think this is wrong. Can you tell what is the truth?

    • Dear Cheryl H.:

      No. They are wrong. The item must scan correctly whether it has a sticker or just a price displayed nearby. The scanner law applies!

  2. What about when you’re charged more than once for one item and don’t notice until you get home?

    • Dear Trisha A.:

      To be charged more than once is not a scanner law violation. Certainly you are entitled to get your money back though.

  3. I received my bounty at Menards, but they told me I had to take in the form of a store voucher. Is that allowed?

  4. I was just at Kohls and they told me that the scanner law no longer exists.

    • Dear Dawn:

      The “scanner law” does exist. Many retailers inform customers that the “scanner law” does not exist thinking of the Michigan Item Pricing Act, which was the initial law regarding the bonus/bounty. The Michigan Item Pricing Act was repealed, but a new/modified law was written and codified under the title of the Michigan Shopping Reform and Modernization Act (“SRMA”). The new law essentially provided that the stores no longer had to individually price each item with a sticker; rather, they could use a display that was somewhere in the store nearby the item. The new and old laws applied to automatic checkout systems, consumers being overcharged through them, receiving the overcharge amount back, and getting a bonus; so, the “scanner law” still exists.

      Depending on the facts of your case and exactly what was said, you could have a claim under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) for Kohl’s making statements that would confuse a party to a transaction as to their legal rights. Such a claim under the CPA is worth $250 in statutory damages and “reasonable” attorney fees (which could be more than the $300 mentioned in the SRMA).

  5. Elisabeth H. says:

    Hello,

    I would like to be in contact with you as I went to Family Dollar in Madison Hts. They refused to honor the law I called the main office where I have voice-mails saved I filled an attorney general complaint and they stopped resounding to me and did not respond to the attorney general either. I have my receipt and names as well.

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