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Attorney Renee C. Walsh

MAKE EASY MONEY Asserting Your Scanner Law Rights

A very frugal friend of mine told me that he rarely makes a trip to a certain retail and grocery super-center without the scanner incorrectly scanning one of his items.  He makes easy money asserting his Scanner Law rights.

Here’s the Scanner Law:

Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 445.311 et. seq., popularly called the Scanner Law or Shopping Reform Act, applies to the purchase of consumer items which are purchased thru an automatic checkout system.  If the item does not scan correctly, the consumer gets the difference between the price displayed and the price charged, multiplied by 10. The minimum is $1.00 and the maximum is $5.00.

Once you tell the store that you have been overcharged, they have 2 days to give you these statutory damages.  If they do, you can’t take them to court.  If they don’t give you your statutory damages, you can and recover actual damages or $250.00 whichever is greater, and up to $300.00 in attorney fees.

Make even more $$ this way:

You should not feel awkward in any way about invoking your Scanner Law rights.  Stores are well aware of this law and should respect that you don’t want to pay more than you agreed to and you rely on them to advertise their goods in a way that will not cheat their customers.  Furthermore, it is an inconvenience to you to have to scrutinize your receipt and go back to deal with an incorrectly marked item.

But, they are going to treat you badly!  Store workers seem to take it personally.  They will even lie to you!

WATCH FOR THEIR LIES!

Take note of what they tell you and who tells it to you.  Listen for confusing and/or untrue statements, like “you have to leave the store” or the “law doesn’t exist anymore” or it “doesn’t apply to clearance items”.

Because those lies can lead to you collecting an additional $250!  FOR VIOLATING THE MICHIGAN CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT.

Contact me at renee@walshlawpllc.com if you need help collecting your statutory damages.  You won’t pay me a dime — but the store will.

Additional Resources:

Discussion:

  1. I was charged $ 8.01 for a bag if lemons that had a price at the shelf of $3.99. When I went to the service desk, they gave me the difference; but, said I was not entitled to the bonus because the law did not apply to fruits and vegetables. Is that true?

  2. I got overcharged for my pet food and realized with when I got home. I went back and they gave me back what I overpaid, but when I mentioned the penalty they said that was the law but that law was rescinded and they don’t have to pay the 10.00 penalty. Did the law change?

    • Dear Sandy:

      The relevant information is that there was a law called the Michigan Item Pricing Act that was rescinded. However, a new law was written in its place called the Michigan Shopping Reform and Modernization Act (SRMA). In pertinent part, the new law allowed the stores to display the prices in the store rather than requiring them to put a price sticker on every item. Therefore, presently, there is a law in place that provides for the same bonus and price difference to be paid in the event of a scanner overcharge error.

      It appears to me that you have a basis for $250 in statutory damages under the SRMA and as the store has told you an untruth, you have an additional claim of $250 in statutory damages under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

  3. If you purchased different items and were overcharged for 3 different items all in the same transaction, would you have to file separately for each item? This involves one store.

    • Dear Jb:

      Three different items should merit three bonuses. No, you don’t have to file separately. You don’t have to “file” at all. You just have to write to the store and demand your statutory damages. You should be able to get at least $250 in statutory damages. An attorney may be able to persuade the store that the statutory damages are $250 x 3.

  4. Is there a statutory limitation with taking a store to court? If so, would 3 years be too late? What happens if they deny or do not show up?

    • Dear JB:

      There is specific statute on the SRMA claims, however, I wouldn’t bring one past the 6 year period set forth as applicable to Consumer Protection Act (CPA) claims.

      If they don’t show up, you move for an order for damages based on their default; and you should get it.

  5. Colleen J. says:

    My daughters purchased some Pokemon cards that were on a hanging peg and the price attached to the peg said $4.18 and they were charged $4.98. When we went back to the store the cashier told us that the product had been stocked on the wrong peg. The correct place was filled with different cards but had the correct price for the ones we purchased so we were not entitled to the bounty just the price difference. How is it possible for her to say that when the tag where the cards they purchased said Pokemon cards and said $4.18. Are we supposed to somehow figure out that they made a stocking error before we try and purchase an item? We saw the description and the price on the peg where they were displayed, shouldn’t that qualify for the bounty?

    • Dear Colleen J.:

      I understand your confusion. The answer to your question depends on exactly what the description on the display said. If the product your daughters purchased fit the description and they were overcharged then the scanner law / bonus applies. Even if it didn’t exactly meet the description, if a reasonable person would have understood the “offer” (displayed price) as you did, then the scanner law / bonus applies. In those situations, it is helpful to have a photograph of the display. In contrast, with errors where the item is obviously in the wrong place but the buyer just didn’t pay close enough attention, then the scanner law / bonus would not apply.

      I hope that you got the price difference back because if they didn’t give that to you, under the circumstances, you would have a claim under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act which allows for $250 and “reasonable attorney fees”.

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