(also known as The 2011 Shopping Reform and Modernization Act)
The scanner law is often discussed when shoppers are overcharged for any reason. The terms of the law, however, are not quite that simple. As a Michigan shopper, it can make a difference to be educated in what this law means for you – and the bonus it can bring you for your trouble.
If you were familiar with the Michigan Scanner Law in the past, the terms were updated in 2011. The most notable change is that stores are required to display the price of items offered for sale in the store at the place where the item is located, but are no longer required to individually mark the price on the item itself (no price tags).
TIP: Print a Scanner Error Bill of Rights card to keep in your wallet or coupon organizer for reference. It’s also available in large print.
In Michigan, most items on store shelves must be clearly displayed with a price (by signage, electronic reader, price sticker, etc.). Another method of price display can be used, as long as it “clearly and reasonably” shows the price of the item and it’s at the place where the item is located.
MICHIGAN SCANNER LAW
IF an automatic checkout system (scanner) charges you more than the displayed price of an item, AND:
- The transaction has been completed AND
- You have a receipt clearly showing the item purchased and the price charged for it.
THEN, you have 30 days to contact the store (either in person or in writing). If you have found an error and have your receipt, the store may refund you the difference in pricing plus a “bonus” of ten times the difference. The bonus must be at least $1.00, but may not be more than $5.00.
- If you purchase several identical items at once and were overcharged on each, you may collect the bonus only once, but you are entitled to the refund of the difference for each identical item.
- If the seller does not pay you both the refund and the bonus, you may bring a lawsuit to recover your actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorney fees up to $300.00.
Example Shopping Situations
The Michigan Scanner law can get a little tricky in real life, since there are so many small details listed within the guidelines. Here are a few examples:
A customer buys 1 box of cereal. The shelf tag for the correct size and brand clearly showed the price as $3.49, but he was charged $3.79. He takes the receipt back to the service desk and receives a refund of $0.30 (the difference in price), plus a bonus of 10 times the difference ($3.00). He receives $3.30 total.
A customer buys a 4 pack of pint canning jars marked with a sticker price of $4.99. The scanner charges $5.99. She is refunded the difference ($1 + tax), but 10 times the difference would exceed the maximum of $5. The bonus amount is $5, for a total of $6.06. See the actual price adjustment receipt →
A customer buys a cantaloupe, but the cashier accidentally rings it up under the honeydew melon PLU code. He is given the difference between the price charged and the price it should have been. There is no penalty on human errors.
A sign is left up past the sale date. The item is marked and scans at regular price. The sale price should be honored since the sign remained up. However, there is no overcharge fine since the error was in violation of the state’s advertising laws (the sign was wrong) and not an error caused through the scanning system.
A product is on sale for $0.49. The price is not stamped on the product, or it is still marked the regular price of $0.69. The item scans at the regular price, not on sale. The customer is due $0.20 for the item overcharge, but is not due the fine because the item was not marked or did not scan higher than the price marked.
When the Michigan Scanner Law will NOT apply
- Prices are hand-rung at the register and a scanning device is not used.
- You notice the price mistake during your order and point it out to your cashier, who adjusts the price to the correct amount.
- A cashier types in a code or amount incorrectly (the item itself is not scanned). This is considered human error rather than a scanner error.
- You purchased a variety of item not included in the store’s advertised sale (i.e. the sign indicated that select varieties 5-12 ounces were included and you purchased a 16-ounce item of the same brand).
- You no longer have your receipt.
- You wait more than 30 days to address the issue with the store.
What is your experience with the Michigan Scanner Law?
It is great that you are educating people on this. Were i work people try to
claim this law often, and 9 of 10 times the law does not apply to there situation,
because they are not educated on the fine details. I am thankful to work for a
company, that training includes this law. Great Post!!
I haven’t tried to use this law since the change in 2011. Before that, I got some AWESOME deals. The best one ever was when I saw the 200 foot rolls with $2.66 price tags instead of the $6 something. I bought all 6 of them. Took them to the customer service desk. They refunded the difference and gave me $5 EACH. So basically, they paid me to buy all that foil. That was almost 5 years ago, and I still have some of the foil in the basement. I think of this every time I’m down there in our pantry.
Unfortunately, my experience has been even when employees are trained on this, they also misinterpret the finer details of the law and as the consumer I’m being held to their misinterpretation.
For instance there was a .05 cent difference one time, the retail store provided me the .05 difference and a .50 cent bounty (10x.5). Their interpretation was incorrect. The law says minimum $1.00. So I got .55 cents back and by the law I was entitled to $1.05 back.
Another misinterpretation example, see Dan’s experience previously posted. He benefited in favor of the stores misinterpretation.
“I saw the 200 foot rolls with $2.66 price tags instead of the $6 something. I bought all 6 of them. Took them to the customer service desk. They refunded the difference and gave me $5 EACH.”
The bounty amount is allowed per transaction. Dan should have gotten back $3.34 for EACH of the tinfoil roles (the price difference) and then a single $5.00 bounty, not $5.00 for EACH of the roles. The bounty applies to the entire transaction not for EACH of the items within that transaction.
Section 8 says, (3) It is prima facie evidence of a violation of this section if a price a person charges or attempts to charge for a consumer item that is subject to section 7 is established by electronic identification or calculation by an automatic checkout system and that price exceeds the price displayed for that item.
Therefore, a retailer who “attempts to charge” falls within the parameters of a violation and should qualify for a bonus payment.
And you’re wrong about sale prices not qualifying; maybe under the old (sticker) law but not now with displays being added. Look at the Michigan Dept of Ag website for more info http://www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-2968_4823-12359–,00.html where it says under # 2 things to remember. The bonus (bounty) is still in effect; now even for sale items.
Thanks for the additional information! I’ve updated the post.
#2 – If a price is not displayed for a sale item and it scans for more than the sale price, do I get the sale price and the bonus?
You are entitled to the sale price but not the bonus. There must be a price displayed for the item — and the item has to scan for more than the price displayed — for you to be entitled to the bonus.
I went to Lowe’s to buy blinds. They were on sale and marked at the display. I bought them and returned to my car and noticed a plastic box I had purchased was cracked…So, I went back in to replace the box and while I was waiting for customer service I noticed I was overcharged on all the blinds. I asked for a refund (it was $75!) and for the Michigan law to be followed. The head cashier told me that the law changed this year and they no longer have to pay out any money for a mis-charged item. I called Lowe’s when I got home and spoke to a manager. She said they would give me $5 per item – there were 5 blinds. The next manager said that was wrong, too, but he would honor the first manager’s promise. Did the law change again? What should have happened? The head cashier even told me that they don’t have to mark the items anywhere at all. I’m confused.
You should have only received the $5 bonus once, plus the difference in price from the overcharge.