TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs (“Division”) today announced that Dollar General Corp. (“Dollar General”), a national discount retail chain with 186 stores in New Jersey, has agreed to pay $1.2 million to resolve allegations by the Division’s Office of Weights and Measures (“OWM”) that the chain repeatedly engaged in merchandise pricing violations at several retail stores across the state. The settlement, which includes a $1.18 million civil penalty, is the largest ever obtained by OWM.
According to the State’s allegations, the Tennessee-based retailer violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”) and Weights and Measures Act (“WMA”) by selling a variety of merchandise that scanned at the cash register for higher prices than were posted where the merchandise was displayed for sale.
OWM pricing inspections of 58 New Jersey stores in November 2022 and February 2023 found more than 2,000 instances in which the price charged at the register for a particular product was higher than the posted price, in some cases as much as $5.95 higher.
“New Jersey, under the leadership of Governor Murphy, has demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting consumers from unfair practices that disproportionately burden low- and moderate-income New Jerseyans,” said Attorney General Platkin. “This settlement advances those efforts by imposing a significant civil penalty against a national retailer for engaging in pricing practices that deceived and defrauded New Jersey residents.”
The allegations resolved by the settlement reflect an ongoing pattern of pricing violations at Dollar General stores in New Jersey. Prior OWM inspections of Dollar General stores statewide from 2018 to 2022 have led to a total of $43,678 in assessed fines against the retailer for pricing violations.
“Dollar General claims to provide everyday essentials at affordable prices in communities often underserved by other retailers, but time and time again the chain has been caught overcharging customers through deceptive pricing tactics,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “New Jersey is committed to ensuring transparency and fairness in its marketplace. Today we hold Dollar General accountable for disregarding our consumer protection laws and unlawfully boosting its profits at the expense of consumers who can least afford it.”
In addition to paying a $1.18-million civil penalty and reimbursing the Division’s investigative costs and attorney’s fees, the settlement requires Dollar General to make changes to its business practices to prevent future violations.
Those changes, contained in a Consent Order filed with the Division today, require Dollar General to:
- comply with all applicable state and federal laws and not engage in any unconscionable business practices or pricing violations as prohibited by the CFA and the WMA;
- ensure that all employees in New Jersey Dollar General stores who have pricing responsibilities participate in pricing training within 90 days of this agreement;
- conduct internal audits for a period of three years, such that each New Jersey Dollar General store is audited at least once a year and that an audit revealing overcharge errors in more than 2% of the products sampled at any one store shall constitute a failed audit;
- within ten business days of a failed audit, submit to the Division the report of the failed audit and a corrective action plan describing how Dollar General intends to prevent future pricing inaccuracies at the store location that failed the audit; and
- retain all reports and records of every internal employee training session and every internal audit for a period of three years and provide them to the Division upon request.
The investigation was conducted by inspectors in the OWM Enforcement Unit, under the supervision of Supervisor of Enforcement Jason Flint and Acting Superintendent David Freed.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Kozier, under the supervision of Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section Chief Jesse Sierant within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, represented the State in this matter.
Consumers who believe that a business is in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act or the Weights and Measures Act are encouraged to file an online complaint. Consumers can also call 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.
The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee approximately 750,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.