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Roundy’s agrees to forfeiture for pricing errors

Madison —Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc. has agreed to pay a $44,576 forfeiture
to the state for charging the wrong prices at some of its Copps and Pick ‘N
Save stores, state consumer protection officials said Tuesday.

The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection became aware
of the mistakes in the fall of 2004 after inspectors discovered them and consumers
filed complaints, said Janet Jenkins, administrator of the agency’s trade
and consumer protection division.

The problems occurred at the check-out registers, Jenkins said. New prices
were downloaded to check-out scanners from Roundy’s corporate headquarters,
but store workers apparently didn’t change signs on the sales floor to
match them, she said.
Six stores — two Copps in Monona and Fitchburg and four Pick ‘N Saves
in Mukwonago, Muskego, Brookfield and New Berlin — couldn’t meet the state’s
98 percent accuracy standard for scanned prices at the check-outs. Customers
were overcharged and undercharged on items, although undercharges outpaced overcharges
by a two-to-one ratio.

Jenkins said Roundy’s agreed to correct the problem in December 2004.

But when inspectors checked 29 stores around the state in June, 12 stores still
failed the 98 percent accuracy standard, Jenkins said.

Those stores included Copps in Appleton, Fitchburg, Madison and Stevens Point
and Pick ‘N Saves in St. Francis, Oak Creek, Milwaukee, Franklin and Janesville.

Not deliberate

Overcharges outpaced undercharges at a four-to-one ratio, with the average
overcharge about 60 cents. The Fitchburg Copps charged nearly $3.50 more for
a baby hat, the biggest overcharge among the dozen stores. Jenkins said she
didn’t have data on total overcharges because the inspectors took random
samples.

“I have no reason to believe it was deliberate,” Jenkins said. “Not
paying attention to detail. Not training people well enough, not making sure
when prices change, the employees get out in the aisles and change the prices
accordingly.”
Roundy’s agreed to the forfeiture in late December, Jenkins said.

Robert Mariano, Roundy’s chairman and CEO, issued a statement Tuesday
blaming the mistakes on human error. Expired sale tags weren’t removed
from shelves, the statement said.

“Consequently, when consumer protection auditors visited some Copps and
Pick ‘N Save stores, items rang up at the regular price, appearing to be
overcharges based on out-of-date sale signs,” Mariano said in the statement.

The supermarket chain is working on a new pricing system to eliminate human
mistakes that should be in place by the end of February, Mariano said.

If customers can produce receipts to prove they were charged incorrectly, they
will get the item free, the statement said. Tobacco and liquor purchasers will
be refunded the difference.

The forfeiture will go to the state’s school fund, Jenkins said. The $500
million fund is used for bond investments, loans to school districts and municipalities
and school library supplies.

The Milwaukee-based supermarket chain owns and operates more than 130 grocery
stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois under the Pick ‘N Save, Copps
Food Center and Rainbow Foods names.

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