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Apple Store in San Diego hit with pricing accuracy violation, must wear sign of shame


Apple Store, UTC in San Diego has been hit with a “Notice of Failed Inspection” through the county’s Price Accuracy Inspection Program for charging customers a higher than advertised price.

The notice, which Apple has to display in the window of the Apple Store for ten days through November 22, reads:

“This establishment has been fined for overcharge violations found during an inspection on 9/1/2015.

Charging higher than the lowest posted or advertised price, is a violation of Business and Professions Code Section 12024.2.”

We spoke with an employee at the Apple Store, UTC who told us the pricing discrepancy wasn’t related to pricing on Apple’s own products, but rather a third-party accessory. The employee couldn’t confirm the specifics of the violation or pricing blunder.

The program is managed by the County of San Diego Department of Agriculture, Weights, and Measures who routinely inspects pricing at local businesses and enforces the law mentioned above. The department describes the program as regular inspections of “retail locations with automated point-of-sale systems to verify that prices charged to consumers are the same as those posted, advertised, or quoted price. Weights and Measures inspectors also confirm that check-out stands clearly display the price of each item as they are entered into the POS system.”

California has information on the law on its website, which outlines various rules that prevent businesses from overcharging customers in one way or another versus advertised pricing.

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  1. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    Um, they charge Apple MSRP at their stores, it was probably a 3rd party product that was the cause, 3rd parties sometimes change prices, at least that’s my guess.

    • realgurahamu - 7 years ago

      Doesn’t matter. The price on the POS system has to match the price which is quoted on shelves or in advertisements of any kind which state a price. If a customer is charged higher than what is stated on the shelf or advert then it is called false advertising and is punishable by the courts depending on the severity.

      • Leif Paul Ashley - 7 years ago

        Good point – they should remove the prices from the shelves.

      • realgurahamu - 7 years ago

        @lief a lot of companies actually do this which actually reduces sales do to frustrated shoppers not knowing prices before going to checkout

  2. Gregory Wright - 7 years ago

    One would think the county would give a warning before posting that embarrassing notice.

  3. I read it’s fake.

  4. A simple database error is enough to receive this notice, even if an employee makes a correction at check-out to compensate for the error (as I’m sure they do if they or the customer catches the problem).

    • jon9611 (@Jiff98765) - 7 years ago

      Sometimes its not just an error, simply a lag in updating the databases. Working in retail, i’ve often seen our inventory prices along with our price tags on the products differ from the ones present in our POS systems. This is especially true for one or two day sales, when the POS systems fail to update regularly enough. We try our best to always give the customer the lowest price, though it is sometimes challenging to catch each and every error.

  5. calisurfboy - 7 years ago

    Wow. Basically every business I have been to should have this sign on their windows.

    I’ve had pricing errors at Target, Walmart, Safeway Grocery, Jiffy Lube, Trader Joes, HEB, JC Penny, Macys, Best Buy….. just to name a few.

  6. Sterling Miller - 7 years ago

    Its real if you go to their site they have it listed. $100 fine, inspection date was 09/04 though so something is messed up there.

    Use this link and then type in APPLE and you will see it

    • tincan2012 - 7 years ago

      I saw Apple Tree Farm not Apple. Perhaps this is mistaken posting.

      • tincan2012 - 7 years ago

        Sorry, Apple Tree Market… I followed the link and searched through the 757 records listed as infractions in the past 24 months – since this sounded like a really messed up story. I could not find Apple – as in computer – anywhere in the link provided by the sign. Is it April 1st?

    • Sterling Miller - 7 years ago

      Dug a little more and found out its 4404 University Ave, which is Apple Tree Market, which is a Liquor store. So I think something is either way off or this story is just all bunk.

  7. crutchcameslinking - 7 years ago

    Working in a 24-hour supermarket, pricing accuracy was a constant problem when ads changed.
    One could argue an Apple Store doesn’t stock THAT many SKUs and that it shouldn’t be too difficult to maintain accurate pricing.
    Unfortunately, customers should never rely 100% on any retail establishment for pricing accuracy. Every retailer is guilty at one time or another.

  8. Stuart Stegall - 7 years ago

    This appears to be bogus. There’s a database of citations and the above citation doesn’t seem to exist. – – From the address listed on Apple’s website, the address was previously cited when it was called “The Children’s Place.”

    • Tessellator - 7 years ago

      Yeah I fond it interesting that there are two inconsistencies. One, that in the picture shown the establishment appears to have wood plank floors while the apple store has large grey stone tile. The photo -could- be from inside the store looking out, but why would a citation notice be taped on the outside- facing in. That just doesn’t make sense.
      Second if you look closely at the picture (in the above article) the borders of the printed image don’t line up with the edges of the paper. (look at the gap (left and right) in the red border line compared to the edges of the paper) That screams “edited image” to me.

      Don’t know for sure, but it smells like shenanigans to me

      • Tessellator - 7 years ago

        Oh crap, I just looked closely at the image, not only dose the lettering not line up with the card but… the reflection in front of the card exactly matches the image showing through the window.
        This is defiantly a “photoshopped” image

      • srgmac - 7 years ago

        9to5Mac called the store — it’s real…lol

      • Robert Serocki - 7 years ago

        I live near the mall where this apple store is and can verify the sign was there. The mall is Westfield UTC (“University Town Center”). I took my own photo and posted it to facebook.

  9. obrun - 7 years ago

    Without knowing the details the notice and issue is unfortunately meaningless. In NYC a business gets ticketed for things that are meaningful or meaningless. Without know how many violations, how often and of what type the city posting these notices is just meaningless. It turns out that in San Diego posting the notice on the door is voluntary. Posting at the POS is mandatory. They get this notice if on the first inspection a POS has fewer than 98% of prices accurately listed. There appears to be no lookup based on business address to view the details. It may relate to an advertised price being lower rather than a shelf price being lower which may well effect other counties if that were the case.

  10. ellzworth - 7 years ago

    Bogus or not, stuff like this happens all the time and those who work in Retail (specifically in California) will share plenty of stories of this kind. A shop I was managing once got hit with this infraction because a customer took a full price item and left it in a sales rack. The inspector usually grabs a few items from around the store, makes a note of the prices for each item and then takes these items to the POS cashier. If a single item rings up incorrectly, you don’t really have an opportunity to correct it or explain why the item is not on sale. That single infraction will cause the entire store to fail it’s inspection. Oh and you have no idea they’re an inspector until they tell you. Also, if you’re shop passes the inspection, you don’t get rewarded with a “THIS STORE’S PRICES ARE AWESOME AND ACCURATE” sign that is placed at the front of the store for 90 days. Not a fan of this inspection service.


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.