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The Apple Tree Market, located at at 4949 Santa Monica Avenue in Ocean Beach, was recently given a “failed inspection” notice to post in their window — as required by county law — after being cited for overcharging for a scanned item.

In an interview with deputy commissioner Jim Byers from the county Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures, he said the notice was posted in response to a routine inspection of the market in March of this year.

The county routinely sends inspectors to investigate businesses. Since there are only four inspectors for all of San Diego County, each business is visited approximately once every three and a half years. Sometimes it is spurred by a consumer complaint.

According to Byers, 300–400 complaints are registered by consumers each year in San Diego County. Each complaint must be investigated, and each inspector that is sent out on that complaint or on their own routine inspection needs to witness the infraction themselves in order to cite the business owner.

During a routine inspection of the Apple Tree Market on March 28 of this year, an inspector was overcharged and the notice was served. The guidelines for determining an infraction are: one item needs to be over $1 and then overcharged, or two items need to be under $1 and be overcharged.

Byers stated that it is not usually purposeful for a business owner to overcharge a customer, but it can happen when prices are not changed in the scanner after a sale. He said that bigger stores, such as Walmart, have price coordinators checking stock prices all the time. (Yet, it was noted on the county's website that Walmart was being cited for these issues.)

In the case of low-ticket items such as the one at the Apple Tree, a $100 fine is issued, followed up by a hearing (which occurred in July of this year for Apple Tree management). The owner is then required to post the citation for ten days in their window.

According to Retailinsite.net, the Apple Tree (which started out as a bowling alley) is up for lease.

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Gail Powell Oct. 23, 2012 @ 1:59 p.m.

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Javajoe25 Oct. 23, 2012 @ 8:38 p.m.

...each business is visited approximately once every three and a half years.

This is a joke. These businesses should be visited much more often. I have personally caught each of the three biggies: Ralph's, Albertson's, and Vons, overcharging for shelf items routinely.

I went through it with the local manager and corporate headquarters of Ralph's because the company was sending me $1 off coupons, but when I used them at the "self check-out," the discount was only 50 cents. I asked the manager what the deal was and he said, "We don't control the computers."

On other occasions I stopped the cashier when I saw a product scanned at a higher price than what was posted. They are always apologetic and correct it, but only because I caught it.

I contacted corporate headquarters and they played dumb so I filed a complaint with the BBB and one of the consumer complaint agencies and all I got for it was my Ralph's Rewards card was zapped so I don't earn any points anymore, which I was using for a dime off on gas when I have to fill up at Shell. Shouldn't be patronizing these bozos anyway.

I see now I should have contacted the Weights & Measure folks, and if there is a next time I will.

But if you check your register receipts carefully, I can almost guarantee you will find them overcharging on a regular basis. They always play dumb and act as if it is a complete surprise, but it happens so often, I can't believe it isn't intentional. I'm certainly not surprised at all anymore.

I haven't shopped at Apple, but Sprouts has quality issues too. Oftentimes their fruit is dry and tasteless, and I have been pointing out for months that their Brazil nuts in the mixed nuts are rancid, but they just keep selling them. Those barrels of nuts too, are never changed and unless they sell quickly, they sit there for months.

Ever since I read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" I don't know where to shop anymore. Turns out, they are all ( and I mean Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and the whole "healthy alternative" group) are all full of shizzizle.

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Demarion Nov. 14, 2012 @ 9:47 p.m.

Well, it might be a great dilemma for them, but overcharging is a serious crime to face for.

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Demarion Nov. 14, 2012 @ 9:48 p.m.

Typically, overcharging is a pain in the rear that consumers have to endure because that's the way America's form of capitalism works, though in some ways, it's a criminal offense. A number of suits over Safeway overcharging customers have been submitted and the chain is said to still be doing the work. Read more here

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