Lomita, CA asked in Consumer Law for California

Q: I noticed that my local 99 cents chain store charges $.99999 for items, rounding up to $1, plus tax. Is this legal?

In other words, they charge $1 for a $.99 items, adding hidden $.01 charge to each item.

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2 Lawyer Answers
William John Light
William John Light
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Walk away if it's too much money. It's not illegal.

Adam Savett
Adam Savett
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Allentown, PA

A: There is no requirement that a "99 cents" or "dollar" store charge 99 cents (or a dollar) for items, unless they actually advertise that 99 cents / 1dollar is the price. Most such stores don't do so and often have merchandise that is priced higher than the store name would imply.

As long as the price is fully dislcosed before you buy it, there is nothing illegal / fraudulent about what they are doing.

It's analogous to how gas stations charge and post prices that also include 9/10 of a cent more, and thus round up to the next nearest cent, See https://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/fuel-consumption/why-is-9-10-added-to-gas-prices.htm

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