Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Grocery Database Errors vs. Price-Scanner Errors

Label with Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode. Borrego Springs Bottled Water distributed throughout San Diego County in Southern California. Image Credit: ecj

This issue of terminology is really getting out-of-hand. The terminology in question is the use of "Price-Scanner Errors" when the price on the shelf and/or the price sticker on a product does not match-up with the price stored in the database when the product is passed over the barcode scanner at checkout.

The terminology suggests that the problem with the difference in the price rests with the lowly input device ... the barcode scanner ... that the scanner has transmitted errors in the price.

It never fails that the Main Stream Media (MSM) packages a story to be broadcast around the Holidays warning of this evil, ugly threat of the barcode scanner getting the price wrong, and it usually benefits the retailer and gyps you, the consumer. That darn barcode scanner!

The poor barcode scanner is just a (excuse me) dumb input device. The scanner reads the barcode which contains a code specific to the product being scanned. The code is then transmitted to the main computer that holds the information programmed to be looked-up for that product in a file called a 'Database" (or look-up file). Humans control the information that is stored the file about the product and that includes the pricing information.

So, guess what, the price-scanner errors are really human to computer database entry errors. The information is not kept up-to-date (sloppy) or there is an attempt to defraud (not good) which is why companies that continually have errors after a survey ... get fined.

Please correct this terminology - "Price-Database Errors" as opposed to "Price-Scanner Errors".

This from the Winston-Salem Journal -

Clemmons market pays error penalty
The Winston-Salem Journal - Thursday, June 29, 2006

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently collected a $1,170 civil penalty from Southern Family Markets #83 at 3627 Clemmons Road in Clemmons, for excessive price-scanning errors.

Inspectors found price-scanner errors during two separate inspections at the store, the department said in a statement. An initial inspection in February found an error rate of 7 percent based on seven overcharges from an inspection lot of 100 randomly selected items.

A follow-up inspection in April found eight errors from 300 items, an error rate of 2.7 percent. If a store has more than a 2 percent error rate on overcharges, inspectors discuss the findings with the store manager and conduct a more intensive follow-up inspection, the statement said.

Link Here>>

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