BOSTON - Consumer advocates have been sharply critical of a Massachusetts state bill that would allow supermarkets to stop putting price stickers on most individual items if they install non-printing aisle scanners, as well as exempt warehouse clubs, convenience stores and drug stores from having to do either, the Boston Herald reports.
Backed by retail and supermarket industries, the bill passed the state House Committee on Ways and Means earlier this week. According to Edgar Dworsky, founder of Consumer World, the proposed change would make it more difficult for consumers to determine product pricing.
"It is absolutely outrageous to allow the CVSï¿½ï¿½s and BJï¿½ï¿½s of the world to stop pricing their goods and not have to offer a good price disclosure alternative for shoppers," said Dworsky, a former assistant attorney general and author of the stateï¿½ï¿½s current food store item pricing law.
"Warehouse clubs like (BJï¿½ï¿½s Wholesale Club) have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars of pricing violations over the years, and they are the last ones who deserve special treatment at the expense of shoppers."
The bill would require a small price label or sign on those exempted storesï¿½ï¿½ displays or shelves, which Dworsky said could be troublesome because stores often fail to update them with current prices, or the signs become misaligned with products.
"These days shoppers need more and clearer price information, not less about the products we buy," said Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG legislative director. "This is a pro-big-business, anti-consumer bill."
Dworsky said other provisions of the bill that would put shoppers at a disadvantage include a weakening of the aisle price scanner requirement (to be located every 5,000 square feet, a 50% reduction), and a requirement that stores have only one aisle scanner capable of printing price stickers (currently, all scanners print prices in non-grocery stores).