The Department of Consumer Affairs has found that supermarkets are still adding a little to the cost of groceries at the register, even with increased inspections.
Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz has announced that his decision to double supermarket inspections this year hasn't really paid off.
Back in August, the DCA charged supermarkets throughout the five boroughs with violations for overcharging consumers. This was found after a yearlong sweep of a thousand inspections. However, the commissioner said he was concerned that "simply paying these fines to the city would just be a cost of doing business for the supermarkets."
Indeed, Mintz announced yesterday that the compliance rate has plummeted to an all-time low of 33 percent—that’s a fifteen percent drop since August. He said the violations over these last four months could total another $310,000 in fines, but that "it isn't a question of whether they'll pay the fines, but rather a question of when they'll change their business practices so they aren't violating the law anymore." Mintz says supermarkets have yet to admit there's a problem with item pricing, accurate scanners, and taxation.
Mintz says if the supermarkets still haven't changed by the end of this year, the DCA will have to take more aggressive measures. He says he's meeting with industry representatives and supermarket owners, urging them to admit there is a problem. He also says the city council is looking into the issue.
An industry group that represents New York grocery stores didn’t immediately respond to a call for comment.