Relates to the posting of prices of groceries; requires all establishments to clearly post the price of products; provides for a penalty for those establishments that fail to post prices, or charge consumers a larger amount than posted.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the general business law, in relation to posting the cost of products
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To establish violations for venues that fail to properly charge consumers at point of sale consistent with the price listed at the product display in the venue.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Subdivision 1: Defines venues that will be subject to this law and the manner in which pricing must be displayed.
Subdivision 2: Establishes that charging a consumer in excess of the marked price constitutes a violation.
Subdivision 3: Failure to properly display price as established in section 1 will constitute a violation.
Subdivision 4: Defines consumers redress to a violation of subdivision 2.
Subdivision 5: Establishes that failure to display pricing will result in, at a minimum, a fine of five hundred for the first violation, one thousand for a second violation and two thousand five hundred dollars for subsequent violations.
Subdivision 6: Establishes that each day an applicable venue is in breach of subdivision 1 or 2 will constitute a separate violation.
Subdivision 7: None of the following subdivisions will apply when a violation is incurred by human error that is subsequently remedied at the point of sale.
JUSTIFICATION: The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) found that compliance declined from last year's low of 48 percent down to only 41 percent. Last year, DCA announced that its inspection of 983 supermarkets throughout the five boroughs resulted in having to issue violations in 516 of those inspections. DCA inspectors this year conducted 1,980 supermarket inspections and had to issue violations in 1,162 of those inspections, with total fines assessed of close to a million dollars. Inspectors check for accurate pricing, proper taxing of products, and accuracy of scales and scanners, all of which affect New Yorkers' wallets at the check-out counter.
This year doubling the number of inspections and thus doubling that 'cost of doing business' still was not enough to get the City's supermarkets to get it right at their check-out counters. Public pressure hasn't worked, doubling enforcement activity hasn't worked, and so there is an impetus for this bill, which would both give overcharged consumers ten times the amount they were overcharged and that item for free, and also triple current fines."
In the past year's inspections the most common violations were for failure to mark proper quantities and provide required accountability information on food packaged in the store, adding tax to items that are not taxable, charging the wrong prices at check-out scanners, failing to affix price tags on individual items, and maintaining inaccurate scales or failing to make scales available to customers for products sold by weight.
Under this Act, every time a consumer is overcharged, they would get both ten times the amount of the overcharge and that item for free. Both Connecticut and Michigan have similar, successful laws on their books, and customer payback is a standard industry best practice. Second, the Act would triple existing fines.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: No prior bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect 90 days after it shall have become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 5874 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE August 24, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. ADAMS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to posting the cost of products THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The general business law is amended by adding a new section 349-e to read as follows: S 349-E. POSTING OF THE COST OF PRODUCTS. 1. EVERY ESTABLISHMENT THAT REGULARLY AND CUSTOMARILY OFFERS FOOD PRODUCTS FOR SALE IN A BONA FIDE MANNER FOR THE CONSUMPTION OFF THE PREMISES SHALL ENSURE THAT EACH SUCH PRODUCT IS CLEARLY MARKED WITH THE COST OF SUCH PRODUCT, EITHER ON THE SHELF DIRECTLY ABOVE OR BELOW THE PRODUCT OR ON THE PRODUCT ITSELF. 2. ANY ESTABLISHMENT THAT CHARGES A CONSUMER AN AMOUNT IN EXCESS OF THE PRICE MARKED ON THE PRODUCT SHALL BE IN VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION. 3. ANY ESTABLISHMENT THAT FAILS TO HAVE THE PRICE OF THE PRODUCT CLEARLY MARKED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE IN VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION. 4. ANY CONSUMER WHO IS A VICTIM OF A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION PURSU- ANT TO SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE, FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT, THE PRODUCT FREE OF CHARGE PLUS AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO TEN TIMES THE AMOUNT ACTUALLY CHARGED FOR THE PRODUCT. 5. ANY ESTABLISHMENT WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION THREE OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE SUBJECT TO A MINIMUM FINE OF FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A FIRST VIOLATION, A MINIMUM FINE OF ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A SECOND VIOLATION, AND A MINIMUM FINE OF TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR EACH SUBSEQUENT VIOLATION. 6. EACH DAY SHALL CONSTITUTE A SEPARATE AND DISTINCT VIOLATION. 7. THIS SECTION SHALL NOT APPLY TO ANY ESTABLISHMENT WHEN AN EMPLOYEE MAKES A KEYSTROKE ERROR WHEN ENTERING THE PRICE TO BE CHARGED TO THEEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD13360-01-1 S. 5874 2
CONSUMER AND THEN IMMEDIATELY CORRECTS THE ERROR BEFORE SEEKING PAYMENT FROM THE CONSUMER. S 2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law.