[HISTORY: Adopted by Dutchess County as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Retail pricing accuracy — See Agriculture and Markets Law § 197-b.
Adulteration, packing and branding of food and food products — See Agriculture and Markets Law Art. 17.
CODE OF LOCAL LAWS REFERENCES
Gasoline sales — See Ch. 187.
[Adopted 12-9-1991 by L.L. No. 10-1991]
No person shall engage in any deceptive or unconscionable trade practices in the sale, lease, rental or loan, or in the offering for sale, lease, rental or loan of any consumer goods or services.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Commissioner of Behavioral and Community Health.[Amended 12-7-2010 by L.L. No. 2-2011]
- An individual who buys or leases or agrees to buy or lease consumer goods or services or credit, including a co-guarantor or surety.
- CONSUMER GOODS, SERVICES, CREDIT AND DEBTS
- Those which are primarily for personal, household, property improvements or family purposes.
- DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES
- Any false, falsely disparaging, or misleading oral or written statement, visual description or other representation of any kind, which has the capacity, tendency or effect of deceiving or misleading consumers and is made in connection with the sale, lease, rental or loan of consumer goods or services; the offering for sale, lease, rental of consumer goods or services; or the extension of consumer credit. Deceptive trade practices include but are not limited to:
- A. Representation that:
- (1) Goods or services have sponsorship, approval, accessories, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities that they do not have;
- (2) The seller has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection that he/she does not have;
- (3) Goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed or secondhand;
- (4) Goods or services are of a particular standard, design, quality, grade, style, value, or model if they are of another.
- B. A false representation as to a material fact.
- C. Failure to state a material fact if such use or failure deceived or tends to deceive.
- D. Offering goods or services without intent to sell them.
- E. Advertising goods or services without intent to supply reasonably expectable public demand, unless the offer disclosed the limitation; vendor must show dated proof that he/she has ordered, in time to arrive by the beginning of sale, more than normal everyday supply.
- F. Making false or misleading representations of fact concerning: the reason for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions; or the price in comparison to prices of competitors or one's own price at a past or future time.
- G. Falsely stating that a consumer transaction involves consumer rights, remedies or obligations.
- H. Falsely stating that services, replacements or repairs are needed.
- I. Falsely stating the reasons for offering or supplying goods or services at sale or discount prices.
- J. Abandonment or willful failure to perform any home improvement contract or project engaged in, or willful deviation from or disregard of plans or specifications in any material respect without the consent of the owner.
- K. Failure to complete contract, service or project in a workmanlike manner or failure to return and perform repairs under warranty.
- L. Failure to have retail selling prices clearly indicated at the point of display:[Added 9-12-1994 by L.L. No. 6-1994]
- M. Selling or offering for sale any consumer goods or services at a greater price than any price displayed or advertised therefor.[Added 9-12-1994 by L.L. No. 6-1994]
- N. Selling or offering for sale any consumer goods which do not have a selling price displayed in conformity with this article.[Added 9-12-1994 by L.L. No. 6-1994]
- O. Use of a computer-assisted checkout system or price look-up function that determines a retail selling price which exceeds the lower of any item, shelf, displayed, sale or advertised price for any item of consumer goods offered for sale.[Added 9-12-1994 by L.L. No. 6-1994]
- P. Displaying gasoline prices in a manner which fails to include and make plainly visible to the consumer the difference, if any, between the price per gallon for payment by cash, debit or credit. For example, a sign which only reveals the price per gallon for a cash payment, but fails to include and make equally and plainly visible the price per gallon by debit or credit payment when a difference in price exists, shall constitute a deceptive trade practice. However, a sign which does not distinguish between the price per gallon for payment by cash and payment by debit or credit shall not be considered a deceptive trade practice only if the price per gallon is the same regardless of the form of payment. The price of gasoline available to retail customers must be displayed on one or more signs that are so positioned and lit that the price that the signs display will be readily seen by motorists approaching the gasoline station at any time that the gasoline station is open for business to supply gasoline. Such signs must display, in all instances, the price of gasoline at the standard retail price available to all retail customers without any discounts or special offers. If discounted pricing is displayed on the sign it must be of the same size as the regular price of gasoline. All such signage must be in conformity with local zoning ordinances and approvals and is not intended to authorize the installation or usage of any additional signs.[Added 12-17-2012 by L.L. No. 1-2013]
- Any individual, corporation, unincorporated association, firm, partnership, organization or other entity.
- A manufacturer, supplier, merchant, contractor, lessor or creditor or other person who makes consumer goods or services available to consumers, either directly or indirectly.
- UNCONSCIONABLE TRADE PRACTICE
- Any act or practice which unfairly takes advantage of the lack of knowledge, ability, experience or capacity of the consumer, which results in a gross disparity between the value received by a consumer and the price paid by the consumer.
The Commissioner may, after a public hearing, adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of this article, including regulations defining specific deceptive or unconscionable trade practices. At least seven business days' prior notice of such public hearing shall be published in the official newspapers of the County. A copy of all rules and regulations promulgated hereunder and any amendments thereto shall be filed in the office of the Clerk of the County Legislature.
No such regulation shall become effective unless approved by resolution of the Dutchess County Legislature.
[Amended 12-7-2010 by L.L. No. 2-2011]
The Dutchess County Commissioner of Behavioral and Community Health shall have the responsibility of enforcing this article.
A violation of any provision of this article or any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder shall be punishable, upon proof thereof, by the payment of civil penalty in the sum of not less than $50 nor more than $2,000 per day for each such violation, to be recovered in a civil action.
Upon finding a violation of this article or any rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, the Commissioner shall expeditiously cause the same to be corrected, or where there is evidence of intent to defraud, refer evidence of such violation to the District Attorney of the County for prosecution, or in the absence of intent to defraud refer to the County Attorney for commencement of a civil action in the name of the County to recover a civil penalty in the amounts prescribed. A cause of action for recovery of such penalty may be released, settled or compromised by the Commissioner before the matter is referred to the County Attorney or thereafter by such attorney.
Whenever any person has engaged in any acts or practices which constitute repeated or persistent violations of any provision of this article or any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder, the County Attorney, upon the request of the Commissioner, may commence an action in the name of the County for a restraining order, temporary or permanent injunction or other equitable relief.
In lieu of instituting or continuing action pursuant to this article, the Commissioner may accept written assurance of discontinuance of any act or practice in violation of this article. Such assurance may include a stipulation for the voluntary payment by the alleged violator for the costs of investigation and the restitution, by the alleged violator, to consumers of money, property, or other things received from such consumers in connection with a violation of this article.
An assurance entered into pursuant to this section shall not be deemed to admit the violation unless it does so by its terms.
A violation of an assurance entered into pursuant to this section shall be treated as a violation of this article and shall be subject to all the penalties provided therefor.
Nothing in this article shall apply to any television or radio broadcasting station or to any publisher or printer of a newspaper, magazine or other form of printed advertising who or which broadcasts, publishes or prints the advertisement.
The Commissioner shall render to the Dutchess County Legislature and the County Executive an annual report to his/her activities under article law no later than June 1 of each year.
[Adopted 12-18-2016 by L.L. No. 2-2017]
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that the consumers in Dutchess County are entitled to clear information, setting forth the prices of consumer commodities which they purchase from retail stores. A clear, easily enforceable item-pricing statute will promote the Dutchess County consumers' right to all reasonable information in order that these consumers are able to make informed choices about their purchases.
The Legislature also finds and declares that price marking technology utilizing a laser scanning device offers numerous efficiencies and economies to the operation of the retail food industry. The Legislature further finds that price marking constitutes an indispensable ingredient to a consumer's right to all reasonable information in order to make an informed purchase choice.
The Legislature further finds and determines that Computer-Assisted Checkout systems (CACOS) are an accurate means of pricing consumer commodities and have become an indispensable technology for retail stores. Employment of such technology obviates and provides a reasonable alternative to the requirement that individual items be price marked in Arabic numerals, so long as the accuracy of the CACOS system is established and the price of individual items is clearly marked on shelves and displays as provided herein. Other than New York City, Dutchess County is the last jurisdiction in the state to have a mandatory item pricing law without a scanner accuracy waiver provision. This Legislature further finds and determines that there are some retailers which will not operate in counties that mandate manual pricing, thus having the effect of limiting competition and economic expansion in Dutchess County. As such, the Legislature finds that other pricing systems should be permitted as an alternative to price marking, subject to proper safeguards.
This article shall not be construed to diminish the requirements of § 214-h of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, § 197-b of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, or the New York State regulations at 1 NYCRR 345.1 et seq., but shall be in addition thereto.
Every retail space in Dutchess County which sells, offers for sale or exposes for sale a consumer commodity shall clearly disclose on each item the selling price of said consumer commodity. The selling price may be shown by stamp, tag, label, or otherwise, marked in Arabic numerals on each item.
Every retail store which uses a computer-assisted checkout system and which would otherwise be required to price mark each item as provided in § 141-9 above may make an application, in writing, to the Dutchess County Commissioner of Behavioral and Community Health for a waiver of the item pricing requirement. A separate application shall be required for each qualified retail store.
The responsibility of the administration and enforcement of this article shall be with the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health, Division of Weights and Measures. The Commissioner of Behavioral and Community Health shall be vested with the power to promulgate rules and regulations consistent with this article. Item Pricing Rules and Regulations are submitted herewith for adoption by local law.
Editor's Note: The Item Pricing Rules and Regulations are included as an attachment to this chapter.