2010.02.16 Sybil Diccion: State's item pricing law threatened

Written by David Green.

I'm not sure how many people realize that Governor Snyder wants to do away with the current Item Pricing Law—a law that requires store owners to mark most individual items with a price sticker.  Business owners are breathing down the necks of our governor and recently elected representatives to repeal this law. I strongly disagree with the whole idea of branding obsolete a law that the Michigan legislature passed in the early 70s, intended to benefit the consumer. A repeal of this law gives us no verifiable way to check whether or not we have been fairly charged unless we have our cash register receipt in hand and are able, when we arrive home, to check off every item to see if it matches the price on the product.

I’m not talking about just one or two items; that would be a no-brainer. But if I have 40 plus items in my cart, how is it possible that I’d remember how much each item cost by the time I reached the checkout? The answer is, I couldn’t. Even if the cost is posted in front of each item, that doesn’t guarantee I’ll remember that price an hour later unless I write down each product I place in my cart, requiring a huge amount of time.

Those who say the law is obsolete are the same people who probably don't bother to check their receipts when they get home. To them, this law has no meaning because either they are so trusting that they don't think stores make mistakes or frankly, they're just too lazy to take the time to double check. But mistakes are made. Just last week, I was charged $5.79 for something that cost only $2.99. I wouldn't have discovered the error had the price tag not been affixed to the product nor would I have much recourse at trying to get a refund without taking the receipt and the price tag back to the store.

So tell me, how does this help the consumer? Supporters say the retailer will pass on the savings to me when they no longer have to pay for the extra time it takes to mark the items, but you and I know that is never going to happen. And what about the thousands of hourly workers who will lose their jobs?

A press release from the governor's office stated that former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelly, the originator of the 1974 IPL, said that he (Kelly) now fully supports the repeal of this law. I called Mr. Kelly’s office to ask if that was a valid statement and his secretary said that his comment was, “if the technology exists that makes this law obsolete, then I support it.” That is very different from what Rep. Snyder’s press statement said and I call “foul” on him for twisting the truth.

Finally (and pointedly), Rep. Lisa Lyons said that another reason this law should be repealed is that it is older than she is. My response? So are the Constitution and the Ten Commandments but antiquity is not a valid reason for discarding them.

I feel we need to fight for the retention of this law because it benefits us, the consumer.

– Sybil Diccion

Main St., Morenci

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    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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