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.