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Price Verification Ensures Equity in the Marketplace

Price Verification is one of our programs in the Weights and Measures Division of The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF). The goal of this program is to ensure equity in the marketplace as it pertains to the advertising of product pricing. In a nutshell, we ensure the price you see is correct and is the price you pay at checkout.

The verification of pricing practices was accomplished by over 8,300 inspections performed at the point of sale in Louisiana in 2022. Our inspectors verify that prices are posted in English and that these prices match what the consumer is charged.

These inspections are performed on a sample of items in a store with a 98% accuracy rate required to pass. If a store fails, follow-up inspections are conducted. A location may face civil penalties or have its license revoked for continued noncompliance.

Our regulatory authority comes from Louisiana Revised Statute 3:30.4617, which addresses fraud by vendors or by purchasers. Our regulations define these requirements further for price posting and accuracy (LAC 7.XXXV.117). They also adopt the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s procedure for price verification inspections (PVI) (LAC 7.XXXV.101.B).

Louisiana regulations differ from many states in that the price of most products must be posted for the consumer to see. If this price is not advertised, the store has a price not displayed error. These errors used to be documented along with overcharging errors. Overcharge errors are when the posted price of an item is less than the charged price. We changed our procedure in the spring of 2022 to separate the recording of these errors.

The percentage of failing price verification inspections in 2021 and 2022 are very similar. However, with the removal of price not displayed errors from these inspections in the spring of 2022, we can deduce that the overcharge errors have increased from 2021 to 2022. We had a range of pricing overcharge errors at the store level from 0.0% to 95.0 % in 2021 and 0.0% to 68.0% in 2022.

Business staffing shortages and inflation may be contributing to the increase in these types of violations. LDAF has removed the price not displayed errors from our procedure and continually works at the store level to help stores come into compliance. We have provided training for corporate-type stores through training district and store managers as well as working with independent owners and management. Our goal is to help all stores come into compliance so we can make sure consumers are getting what they pay for.

Supporting LDAF Weights and Measures data:

  • 9,010 locations with scanners currently registered (source: USA Plants)
  • 7,068 price verification inspections in 2021 (source: WinWam)
    • 11.04% of those inspections were failed
  • 8,374 price verification inspections in 2022 (source: WinWam)
    • 11.69% of those inspections were failed

New Orleans District Supervisor Fred LaRue conducting a Price Verification Inspection