10 Ways Dollar Stores Scam Consumers

5 min read

Believe it or not, dollar stores use some pretty sneaky tactics to scam consumers out of their hard-earned money.

Continue reading to find out 10 ways these stores are getting over on you.

10. The Stores Are Designed To Get You To Spend More Money


Dollar stores make billions of dollars every year by getting customers to spend more money. How? Well, their stores are strategically set up to get you to buy more while you’re there.

For example, they place the seasonal products (e.g., holiday-related supplies) in the front of the store, hoping that you’ll pick them up and put them in your cart as you make your way to the back of the store where the regular, everyday items have been placed.

Dollar stores are also smaller in size than other stores. For example, Dollar Tree is typically 8,000 to 12,000 square feet. That’s about one-eighteenth of the size of the average Walmart.

Why does this matter? Well, the smaller the store size, the quicker you can go through the entire store, increasing the odds that you’ll see something else you might want to throw in your cart on a whim.

9. They’re Ripping off Poor People

Broke Poor

According to an article published by The Guardian, dollar stores are ripping off poor people. Many of the items sold there are pricier than what you’d buy at the supermarket.

Let me explain: a bag of flour sold at a dollar store might cost only $1, but it weighs just two pounds. At the same time, you can get a 5-lb. bag of flour for less than $2.50 at Walmart. Unfortunately, dollar store shoppers often end up paying more than well-off consumers who shop at other stores.

8. Certain Items Have Fake Labels


Beware when buying electronics at the dollar store. Some of them have a fake UL label. Having a UL label means that the product meets or exceeds the safety standards set for that particular item.

So, if the label is fake, it could mean that the item has parts that might not work or that the parts could even catch fire! What’s more, is that some electronics sold at dollar stores may not even have a UL label at all. Either way, it’s best to purchase your electronics elsewhere, like at Best Buy, Walmart or similar stores.

7. Not Everything Costs $1

Dollar Zone

With the exception of Dollar Tree, many products sold at dollar stores cost way more than $1. For example, only about 25% of the items sold in Dollar General are under the one dollar mark. The rest are way over that mark.

This is especially true around the holidays when dollar stores know that people are out shopping for gifts. That being said, if you’re looking only to spend a certain amount, stick to the stores that make it known that ALL of their items are for sale within a certain price range.

6. They Sell Items in Smaller Sizes

small items

Just because something costs only $1 doesn’t mean you’re getting a good deal on it. This is especially true when you take into account the size of the item you’re purchasing.

For example, the toothpaste sold at dollar stores usually comes in smaller tubes than what you’d find at, say, Walmart. As a result, these products end up being more expensive. Milk is another product you can get cheaper at big box stores than you would at dollar stores.

“You will typically get 16 ounces of milk at a dollar store for a dollar, while for only slightly more money — oftentimes only a dollar or two more — you will get 128 ounces (better known as a gallon),” Money Talks News wrote in an article.

“In other words, to get a gallon of milk at the dollar store, you’ll be paying around $8 — not the deal you thought you were getting.”

5. Many Items are of Poor Quality

Poor Quality

As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” This is certainly true when it comes to some dollar store items. That’s because they’re made with cheap materials. As a result, you could end up purchasing a kitchen knife that’s more likely to dull or a hammer that could break shortly after you get it home.

And, here’s something else: even the brand name items sold at dollar stores aren’t made with the same quality as brand name items sold elsewhere. For example, some are made with lesser parts or production values.

Dollar store items may contain hidden toxins as well. According to a 2015 study done by Ecocenter, 81% of 164 items tested from dollar stores contained at least one toxin, while 49% contained at least two toxins.

4. Some Dollar Stores Sell Expired Items

Close, ,up,expiry,date,printed,on,product,box

Dollar stores are known for selling goods that are close to expiring or have already expired. There are a few possible reasons for that:

1. The item has been sitting on the shelf for a while

2. The store was able to buy a shipment of items in bulk

3. The store acquired the item very close to its expiration date (this is especially true when it comes to items like seafood and cheese).

Whatever the reason, it’s always best if you check the expiration date before you purchase it.

3. Dollar Store Vitamins Might Not Contain Everything They Should

Vitamins And Supplements

When it comes to purchasing vitamins, do yourself a favor and head to a pharmacy or big box store. The reason is two-fold:

1. Dollar store vitamins might not actually contain the nutrients you think they do

2. The amounts of the nutrients dollar store vitamins do contain might not be accurate on the label. In other words, you might not be getting the recommended amount.

TIP: Beware of generic supplements sold at Target and Walmart. According to New York’s Attorney General, some of the herbal supplements found at these two stores either don’t contain the ingredients advertised on the bottle or contain ingredients that aren’t even listed on the labels.

2. The Batteries Could Leak


We all know how expensive batteries can be. But, we need them, so when we see them being sold for cheap, we jump for joy. But, you might want to hold off on the excitement.

That’s because dollar store batteries are cheaply made, meaning they might leak and damage your electronics. Then, you’d have to shell out even more money to repair or replace your electronic device(s). That being said, you’d fare better just spending a few extra bucks on batteries sold in other stores.

1. The Pet Food Might Not Be up to U.S. Standards


Did you know that dollar stores will sometimes sell brand-name pet food made outside the United States? Yep, it’s true. So, what does that mean for your pet? Well, it could mean that the ingredients they’re ingesting are not up to the standards set in the U.S.

“This is something to be especially cognizant of if you have an animal that has any sort of dietary restrictions,” Money Talks News wrote in an article. That being said, do your pet a favor and take the time to read the label before purchasing their food from a dollar store.