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Examination Procedure for Price Verification

Frequently Asked Questions

In 1993, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in cooperation with the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM), developed the Examination Procedure for Price Verification (EPPV) to respond to public concerns about price accuracy. The EPPV was adopted by the NCWM in 1995, and is published in NIST Handbook 130 “Uniform Laws and Regulations in the areas of Legal Metrology and Engine Fuel Quality” (NIST HB 130). NIST is not a regulatory agency.

  1. What is the EPPV?
    The EPPV is an inspection procedure that provides regulatory officials and other interested parties with the test procedures and recommended enforcement practices to monitor and evaluate the pricing practices of any store.
    Where can I get a copy of the EPPV?
    The EPPV is published in NIST HB 130 which is available online as a free download at OWM-Publications.
  2. Is it a law or regulation?
    No, the EPPV is an inspection procedure. The results of an inspection conducted using the EPPV must be evaluated for compliance with State or Federal laws and regulations.
  3. Does any Federal Agency regulate pricing accuracy?
    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has jurisdiction over most advertising and pricing practices.
    NOTE: All States have laws or regulations that prohibit inaccurate or deceptive advertising and pricing practices.
  4. Why is the EPPV needed?
    Consumers want to be confident that the price at which a product is advertised or displayed is the price they will be charged at the check-out counter. The EPPV was developed as a test procedure that regulatory officials and other parties may use to help ensure that consumers are charged the correct price for items they purchase.
  5. How does it work?
    The EPPV utilizes "randomized" and "stratified" sampling plans that look at products throughout a store to evaluate how well the store is maintaining price accuracy. The EPPV establishes procedures for comparing the price at which products are advertised or displayed to the price charged at the check-out counter. These procedures may be used with any type of check-out process, from manual entry by the cashier to automated scanner systems.
  6. Can it be used in any type of store?
    Yes, the EPPV can be used in any store that offers and sells products, including but not limited to grocery, hardware, general merchandise, drug, automotive supply, convenience, and warehouse club stores.
  7. Does the EPPV allow stores to have pricing errors?
    Under the EPPV, a store "fails" an inspection when more than 2 % of the product prices verified are advertised or displayed at a price that is different from that charged at the check-out counter. These pricing errors may be either over-charges or under-charges, and are not always against the consumer. The 2 % error rate is a guide to assist regulatory officials to evaluate the overall quality of a store's pricing practices. Depending on the type and pattern of errors found, regulatory agencies can take enforcement action against a store even if it has an error rate under 2 %.
  8. Does this mean stores can have 2 % of their products priced incorrectly?
    It is unlawful in all States to advertise a price that is not accurate. It would be incorrect to interpret the EPPV to mean that stores are allowed to have 2 % of their products incorrectly priced. Federal law also prohibits "unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce."1 The error rate in the EPPV is only a guideline to help regulatory officials evaluate whether a store has good pricing practices and must not be interpreted to mean that any error is "acceptable" or that errors do not need to be corrected immediately after they are identified.
  9. What does it mean if a store "passes" inspection?
    If a store passes inspection under the EPPV it only means that at the time of inspection at least 98 % of the product prices verified were advertised or displayed at the same price charged at check-out.
  10. Are regulatory agencies required to follow the EPPV?
    No. However, many State weights and measures programs have adopted the EPPV for use in their inspections and the FTC utilized the EPPV in several nationwide studies of price accuracy in 1996 and 1998. (See https://www.ftc.gov/reports/price-check-ii-follow-report-accuracy-checkout-scanner-prices)

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115 U.S.C. Sec. 45(a)(1).

Created January 30, 2012, Updated October 8, 2019