Ohio Dollar General stores temporarily shut down amid overcharging lawsuit

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Dollar General stores across Ohio shut down Friday morning, and employees, the company’s corporate office, and the state’s attorney general were all providing different reasons.

Workers at the Clintonville location said they received a call from the retailer’s corporate office telling them to close. They added that they did not know why or have a timeline for when they would reopen.

In Westerville, however, no employees were seen inside the Dollar General, but a sign on the door explained it was “temporarily closed for inventory” and would “open at 11:30.”

A sign posted on a closed Dollar General store in Westerville explains the reason customers aren’t allowed inside. (WCMH/Jamie Ostroff)

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who sued Dollar General in November over allegations of deceptive pricing practices, said he knew why the stores were closing.

“(They) are shutting down to re-tag all their shelf prices — exactly the reason we sued them,” Yost wrote on Twitter. “Glad to see this first step — but we are going to insist on the court order to enforce continued compliance with Ohio’s market fairness laws.”

Nexstar sister station WKBN in Youngstown also discovered closures, and employees at three stores in that region confirmed to the outlet that Dollar General’s corporate office closed the stores so workers could perform price changes.

Later, at 1 p.m., the Dollar General Corporation Public Relations team responded with its own explanation for the closures, as well as an update on its storefronts.

“Dollar General closed select stores this morning to address an overnight systems error,” a spokesperson wrote. “This issue has been resolved and all impacted stores are now open to continue serving our customers. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

With 12 different consumer complaints in hand, Yost’s office sued the company in November, accusing its stores of listing items at a certain price on shelves, but sometimes charging more or double at the register.

Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano took legal action of his own in December. His inspectors found pricing discrepancies at eight out of 10 stores checked, and placed stickers warning of overcharging on their cash registers.

The Dollar General corporate office and its legal team responded on Jan. 9 with a motion to dismiss the lawsuit from the state. Court records show Dollar General followed up with a repeated motion to dismiss on Thursday, claiming the state showed no proof of its accusations. Further, the defense added that overcharging at its stores is actually legal.

“The allegations are so vague and ambiguous that Dollar General cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading with any substantive value,” wrote Kimberly E. Ramundo, an attorney representing Dollar General. “The alleged price discrepancies are not actionable under the [Consumer Sales Practices Act] because they are governed by a separate statutory regime, which not only permits price discrepancies but also subjects them to regulatory oversight.”

Dollar General also objected to Yost’s earlier request for a restraining order against Dollar General, which would force them to charge the prices advertised on stores’ shelves.

A Butler County judge will consider whether or not to grant that restraining order in a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Midwest

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