Is Walmart Charging The Wrong Price?

A little bird told us that Walmart’s products don’t ring up for the same price they are listed as on the shelves, so we went and tested one of their stores.

We took 50 products and wrote down their shelf price. Then we scanned the item at the “check your price” scanners located at the ends of various aisles.

49 out of the 50 were correct, as seen in the list inside. Goldfish Colors scanned for two cents in the customer’s favor.

Not terribly exciting, but even if we had seen a number of items scanning incorrectly, we would have to repeat the test at other Walmarts to draw any conclusions. — BEN POPKEN



Edit Your Comment

  1. acambras says:

    How much are the Nazi t-shirts scanning in at?

  2. Dustbunny says:

    Damn, acambras, you beat me to it :P

  3. Hoss says:

    If you’re not going to use the Grinch Xmas Boxers, can I have them??

  4. homerjay says:

    My local grocery store (Stop & Shop) has a policy where you get the item free if it rings up wrong. Apparently this happens a lot but how would you know?

    I was considering taking a dry-erase marker with me and writing on the packages the price thats on the shelf and then keeping an eye on them as they went through the register.

    ya think this is more work than its worth?

  5. bambino says:


  6. Triteon says:

    homerjay– Since it’s generally a good idea to shop with a list (so you buy what you need and not too much of what you don’t need) just take a pen with you and jot down the price next to the item on the list.

  7. Mike_ says:

    In Michigan, if you’re over-charged at the register, you’re entitled to a refund of the overage, plus ten times that amount (min: $1.00, max: $5.00). I don’t think that’s enough to make retailers behave themselves or audit their scanner systems, though. Even if they get caught 10% of the time, absent meaningful penalties, inaccurate scanners can be more profitable than accurate ones.

    Everyone makes mistakes, though. Earlier this week, I pointed out to a clerk at a liquor store that I was being undercharged by about $10.00 for a bottle of premium rum. It was priced incorrectly. This was a small-town family-owned shop, not a multi-billion-dollar superstore with tens of thousands of items on their shelves.

  8. I call dibs on the Superman boxers.

  9. Amys Robot says:

    BJ’s Wholesale Club used to be terrible with mismatching prices. I did the dry erase marker thing for a while, and discovered wrongly priced items on pretty much every trip. Massachusetts’ pro-consumer atty general at the time made cracking down on mismatched overpricings one of his personal missions (along with non-individually-price-tagged items), and I *believe* it resulted in a “punitive damages” refund of the Michigan kind described above.

  10. jorywoah says:

    About 5+ years ago (before I knew much better) I found myself a Walmart customer from time to time, and I remember several occasions where the “ring up” price didn’t match the shelf price. Surprisingly every time the difference was in my favor.

    Definitely a nice surprise at checkout.

  11. abarzabar says:

    A couple years back I know walmart had a policy on miss marked items. Supposedly they will knock off 3 dollars from your item or three from you entire purchase. I’m not so sure if this is still policy.

    On a side note I know the Kohl’s near me miss-marks everything. You could tell a cashier that it was marked a lower price and they believe you, once in a while they check on the price. Usually the busier they are the less likely they will do a price check.

  12. nikoniko says:

    My local Giant supermarket overcharges me on average 1 out of every 20 items (yes, I actually sat down and figured it out one day). I don’t mind, though, because once I point out any overcharge to them, I receive an immediate cash refund of that item’s full purchase amount. Afterwards, they’re supposed to key the correct price into the computer so that it won’t happen again, but that only happens in some parallel universe where things are different from here.

    I’ve sometimes gotten the same item for free several times in one week because they never fixed the problem. I’d be happy enough just getting the price difference, but it’s *their* policy and they insist on it. The only thing is I wonder how many extra hundreds or thousands of dollars they make on the people who never bother to check or who don’t bother to ask for the money back. I don’t begrudge supermarkets their profits — the average profit margin being only 2-3% once all the bills and paychecks are paid — but misrung purchases are not how they should make their money.

    Interestingly, I’ve never had something ring up below the price it was listed at, though I once bought a huge rump roast for 20 cents due to that being the price on its label.

  13. Sudonum says:

    Check out this blog for the inside story at your average Walmart.

    Pouch Pet? Lotion Pump? Did you buy a refurbed Apple?

  14. FLConsumer says:

    Someone had too much free time…

  15. Jesse in Japan says:

    The problem you’re describing is so common that you could dedicate an entire blog just to covering it, but that would be extremely boring. It’s practically a given these days that some of the items you purchase will scan in at a different price than the listed price.