Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Buyer beware during the holiday season – check those prices!

Holiday shoppersIt’s that time of year again. Holiday shopping is already underway and will increase in earnest during the Thanksgiving weekend. As frugal consumers, it’s time for us to note the advertisements, synchronize our shopping lists, and hope to strike a bargain.  Whether it’s a flat screen TV, the latest communications gadget, or the coolest toy, we want the best price possible.  But those anticipated bargains can be jeopardized if the price you’re charged is more than the advertised price.

Retailers know that it’s important to have accurate prices; it’s the law and it maintains consumer confidence.  Nevertheless, the potential for overcharges is greater during the holiday season. Inexperienced temporary help, complicated marketing programs and more sale prices may lead to overcharging.

To protect yourself from being overcharged, try these tips:

  • Pay attention to the prices you see in the store and in advertisements to determine what the lowest price is before you buy an item.
  • Stores using an electronic point of sale system are required to display the price before the transaction is complete – watch for the price and if you believe you have been overcharged, speak up.
  • Always review your receipt before leaving the store.

If you do get overcharged, speak up – demand the lowest advertised or displayed price before leaving the store.  Be aware that state law is on your side.  A seller may not charge more than the advertised price.  Also, request the store policy on overcharges because in some cases, you may get a discount or the item for free.

Your local county weights and measures officials would be interested on learning of overcharges so they can follow up with an investigation.  Here is a link to the county offices in California:  Alternatively, you can file a complaint with CDFA’s  Division of Measurement Standards at and we will notify the appropriate county officials.

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