UPDATE: American responds to warning from state consumer protect - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: American responds to warning from state consumer protection officials

Posted: Updated:

MADISON (WKOW) -- Consumer protection officials are asking people shopping at American's going-out-of-business sale to be vigilant about pricing.

Investigators with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) went into all seven stores in Wisconsin on Monday after getting complaints from a handful of customers who noticed overcharges.

DATCP Administrator Sandy Chalmers tells 27 News the overcharge rate found at American stores was four times higher than the average in most stores.

State law requires a business to honor the lowest posted price and provide a refund to any customer who overpays, but Chalmers is concerned that law might not be followed.

"[American is] going out of business so they may not be around to pay forfeitures or provide refunds to consumers," Chalmers tells 27 News. "That's why we thought it was so important to get this information into consumers' hands, so they know to double check and triple check the prices when they check out."

DATCP wants customers to always look at the sticker price compared to how it rings up at the register and ask questions before you pay. If there are any concerns, ask to speak with a store manager. If the problem is not resolved, Chalmers recommends customers do not buy the product and instead contact DATCP.

American released a statement Wednesday in response to DATCP's investigation saying consumers should be vigilant but contradicting what DATCP found.

"The vast majority of the “Checkout Errors” claimed by DATCAP [sic] were on unboxed items from our Closeout and Demo centers where we were offering the item for less than the same item in a box. We informed the state investigators of that fact. Our process for selling Clearance and Demo center items has always included a markdown at the register, and we feel confident that consumers will pay the price as tagged," American leaders write in a statement.

American says the report did not find overcharging, but Chalmers disagrees. She says inspectors did not buy items from the scratch and dent or bargain bin, and the items they purchased still rang up as an overcharge.

Chalmers tells 27 News she's confident the inspections were conducted accurately. The agency has not taken enforcement action related to pricing problems against American in the past.

If you have any complaints, visit the Bureau of Weights and Measures website, send an email to datcpweightsandmeasures@wisconsin.gov or call (608) 224-4942.

********

MADISON (WKOW) -- American TV and Appliance issued the following response, after Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection issued a warning Wednesday morning to bargain hunters looking for deals at the store's going-out-of-business sale:

Today the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
(DATCAP) issued a warning to watch out for Checkout Errors during American TV's
Going out of Business Sale. American TV certainly agrees that consumers should be
vigilant, as we want the consumer to get exactly what they expect at the advertised
price.
 
The vast majority of the “Checkout Errors” claimed by DATCAP were on unboxed
items from our Closeout and Demo centers where we were offering the item for less
than the same item in a box. We informed the state investigators of that fact. Our
process for selling Clearance and Demo center items has always included a
markdown at the register, and we feel confident that consumers will pay the price as
tagged.
 
We are concerned that the media has reported that American TV is overcharging
customers. The report from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and
Consumer Protection did not reach that conclusion, and American TV has not
received any consumer
complaints.

********

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection(DATCP) is warning shoppers looking for closeout deals at American TV Appliance.

DATCP says those bargain hunters should pay close attention to the price at the register when they check out. Weights and Measures inspectors from the department conducted a price verification survey Monday at each of the American's seven Wisconsin stores and found that 5.5% of the 325 items checked rang up higher than the advertised price.

DATCP says Wisconsin law requires stores charge the lowest advertised price, and consumers are entitled to a refund when they are overcharged.

The highest overcharge on a single item was $314.44 at the Casaloma Drive store in Appleton, and the store with the highest number of overcharges was the West Beltline Highway store in Madison. Of the 50 items checked there, seven were overcharged at the register.

When the inspector returned to the store on Tuesday, February 25, American had corrected the errors.

DATCP advises consumers to:
- Take the sticker or tag from the item with you to the register.
- Compare the sticker price to the price that rings up at the register.
- Ask questions before you pay.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WQOW. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's pubic inspection file should contact News Director Dan Schillinger at 715-852-5920. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.