Yost Announces $750,000 to Benefit Local Ohio Food Banks
This will help organizations in all 88 counties
Speaking yesterday at the County Auditors’ Association of Ohio’s (CAAO) Winter Conference, Attorney General Dave Yost announced that the bulk of a $1 million settlement with Dollar General will go to food banks or other hunger-relief organizations spanning every one of the state’s 88 counties.
Under an agreement reached between Yost’s office and Dollar General, $750,000 of the settlement money will be distributed to food banks for the purchase and distribution of food and/or personal-care items. Each county auditor will choose the beneficiary in his or her county – a decision that must be submitted to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by Nov. 30.
“Most people don’t shop at Dollar General because they have a lot of extra money to spend,” Yost told the auditors at the Renaissance Westerville. “So when a bottle of shampoo that should cost $1 costs $2 at the checkout, that’s a real thing. And you all brought it to light.”
Dollar General, a Tennessee-based discount retail chain with more than 980 stores throughout Ohio, displayed prices on its shelves for certain items but charged higher prices at its registers, and failed to correct prices at the point-of-sale to the lower shelf price.
County auditors play a role in price verification at retail businesses, as they conduct inspections to make sure products are ringing up at the correct price. The Dollar General case originated in Butler County – where error rates were found to be as high as 88 percent – and many other auditors uncovered similar errors upon inspecting Dollar General stores in their respective counties.
Yost explained to the auditors how the settlement money will be distributed.
“In every county there is at least one Dollar General, and there will be a $1,000 minimum check for that first store – so every county gets at least $1,000,” he said. “The remainder of the $750,000 is going to be divided up and distributed based on how many stores you have in your county.”
Wyandot County Auditor George Kitzler, the incoming president of the CAAO, expressed his appreciation regarding the settlement distribution.
“On behalf of the association, I thank Attorney General Yost for earmarking food banks as the beneficiaries and for empowering my colleagues and me to decide where best to direct the money within our counties,” Kitzler said. “The food-bank assistance is well-timed, as the holiday season is quickly approaching.”
Yost said he hopes the auditor-designated food banks will have the money in hand before the winter holidays. In addition to the monetary relief, the settlement with Dollar General requires the company to make various changes to ensure that its products ring up at the correct amount, including:
- Staff sufficiently to keep its shelf tags updated.
- If a consumer points out that a price at the register is higher than the price on the shelf tag, the employee must adjust the price to match the that of the shelf tag; the shelf tag must then be fixed within 24 hours of noticing the discrepancy.
- District managers must conduct random price checks every 45 days.
- For any store that receives three “failed” auditors reports within six months, that store must complete a full-store assessment and check the price of every item in the store to ensure accuracy.
- The company also must educate all employees about this policy and post signs in its Ohio stores informing customers of the same.
Ohioans who suspect unfair business practices should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.