Consumer Groups Urge Lawmakers to Keep Price Disclosure Law Intact

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Loophole in Economic Development Bill Would Exempt Warehouse Clubs Like BJs


Consumer groups urged state lawmakers to reject a special interest loophole included in the House passed economic development bill that would exempt warehouse clubs from any state oversight and requirements for price disclosure and sign accuracy in their grocery departments. Below is the letter sent to the members of the conference committee.
 July 20, 2010
Re: Opposition to Amendment Excluding Warehouse Clubs Like BJ’s from Price Disclosure Law in Economic Development bill Conference 
Dear Lawmakers,
We are writing to urge you to see that the price disclosure loophole included in the House Economic Development bill, H. 4863 does not make it into the final conference bill.
The language contained in sections 179-184 of H.4863 is a special interest provision that will negatively impact every shopper at warehouse clubs.  It gives warehouse clubs a complete exemption from the state consumer pricing law.  If passed, this means that stores like BJ’s and Costco would no longer be required to put prices on grocery items, place accurate price signs on grocery department shelves, or even be inspected and fined by state or local officials if a shopper is overcharged on these items because of incorrect prices or signs.
No one class of retailer should be allowed to flout consumer pricing laws while every other retailer in the state must comply.  And warehouse clubs should be the last ones to be exempt from this law, because they are amongst the state’s worst offenders.   BJ’s, for example, racked up thousands of violations and over $100,000 in fines in just one two-year period for failing to comply with the law while most other warehouse stores and supermarkets complied.  Further, the language in sections 182-184 does not sunset the warehouse exclusion despite its appearance to the contrary because it does not fully restore the original definitions in the existing law.
Accurate price disclosure is one of the most basic consumer protections and that right must be protected and enhanced, not eviscerated, as proposed in this amendment.  In surveys, consumers have told us that finding the price right on the item is their preferred way to shop, and over 90% of them want to keep the current pricing law on the books.
Accordingly, we urge you to help prevent this provision from being included in the final bill.  
Very truly yours,
Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director
44 Winter St.
Boston, MA
Paul Schrader, Treasurer
Mass. Consumers’ Coalition 
149 Main Street
Hyannis, MA  02601    
Edgar Dworsky, Founder
Consumer World
147 Shore Drive
Somerville, MA  02145