Montgomery County auditor Karl Keith announced Friday his office has found pricing issues at several Dollar General stores in the county following reports of similar pricing issues in Franklin and Butler counties.
Part of the auditor’s work is checking the prices on the shelves of retail stores compared to what the price scans at the register. The Montgomery County Auditor’s Office found 15 out of 18 Dollar Generals inspected so far in Montgomery County have failed those inspections, meaning at least two items that auditors randomly selected in the store did not match between the price on the shelf and the price at the scanner.
“For people who are who are purchasing items at a retail store, you see what the price is on the shelf and you expect that to be the price that you check out,” Keith said.
This is a new issue, as last year 300 out of 343 stores in the area had perfect scores on their audit. Only two Dollar Generals in the area failed their audit last year.
Keith said during a press conference Friday he believes the issue is staffing and may not be an issue specifically with Dollar General. The office expects to continue to look at Dollar Generals throughout the county and will continue to other retail stores, he said.
Keith said in many stores like Dollar General, there has been a lot of employee turnover and a lot of new staff. Combined with the thousands of items that some larger stores have, it isn’t surprising that it will be difficult for new employees to keep up with.
Keith said one inspector told him a new employee at a Dollar General told the inspector they were sure the store would fail after the inspector explained what they were looking to do.
“I just don’t think that they’ve had the staffing to keep up with the job,” Keith said. “That’s not an excuse, you know, that the consumers expect those prices to be correct. And that’s why we’re out there checking them.”
Keith is currently running for reelection as the county auditor, which he has been since 2000. Karl Kordalis, an attorney running for auditor against Keith, said it’s concerning that Keith began the investigation in reaction to Franklin and Butler county reports.
“The job of the auditor is to be out there monitoring this,” Kordalis said. “It’s obvious his investigation is reactionary and he’s doing it after seeing other auditors offices actually step up and see what’s going on.”
Kordalis said he was looking at expanding the investigators at the auditor’s office to have a constant force in the field to monitor prices and making sure people are getting what they paid for.
He called the inaccurate pricing “predatory.”
“Individuals that use these stores are usually in locations that don’t have access to other types of grocery stores,” he said.
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