Investigation: Glitch in Target's pricing system costs shoppers money

41 Investigators discover nationwide glitch
Posted at 7:02 PM, Aug 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-22 23:35:00-04

The 41 Action News Investigators discovered a nationwide glitch in Target's pricing system that's cost shoppers money.

It's not uncommon for stores to sell dually-located items. Target sells children's medicine in both the baby and healthcare aisles.

While many people might not think to check both areas to compare prices, they should.

Baby aisle items labeled at higher cost

While shopping undercover, the 41 Action News Investigators placed infant's Tylenol and two different kinds of Motrin from the baby aisle into a basket. The same items were picked out near the pharmacy in the healthcare section.

After purchasing the items separately, it was found that the three products from the baby aisle cost $1.60 more without tax. 

While the investigators only bought three items to reach that total, products like Gripe Water and Motrin both cost a dollar more when bought from the baby aisle.

When looking closely at the packaging on the products found in the baby aisle, the original barcodes were replaced with sticker barcodes.

Target manager shocked by price difference

While still undercover, the 41 Action news Investigators questioned a manager about the markups. He said he had no idea it was happening. 

"Wow, that's crazy. I buy stuff here," he said. "I usually go to the pharmacy part, which one is cheaper do you think?"

When talking with parents, they also had no clue they were spending more when buying these items from the baby aisle.

"I'm, like, irritated because my kids go through that stuff like it's water," one mom said. "That's crazy."

Another mother said she never would have checked both aisles, under the assumption that one would be charging more for the same items.

"I guess I won't be going back to the baby aisle," she said.

Target offers price-matching. In this case, the store price-matched itself and refunded the 41 Action News Investigators the difference. 

Target finds glitch with pricing system

The 41 Action News Investigators called Target's corporate offices to find out why the store was charging two different prices for the same item. 

Kristy Welker, a spokeswoman for Target, said it was the first time she heard of the issue. 

Welker said she was going to speak with the rest of the team at Target to find out why the baby aisle is costing more. 

After several hours, she contacted the 41 Action News Investigators, saying a glitch was found in Target's pricing system. 

Target issued the following statement:

Accurate pricing is important to Target, and we value the trust that our guests place in us. We researched this issue and found an error in our pricing system affecting these four products.

We apologize for this inadvertent error and the confusion it has caused. Once we were made aware of the issue, we updated the pricing systems to reflect accurate and consistent pricing of these dually-located items. The consistent, revised pricing is now displayed in our store.

Guests who bought these items within the baby department can bring their receipt to Guest Service at their local Target store, and the price difference will be refunded.

Welker told the investigators that Target's computer system is supposed to send an alert when dually-located items are not priced the same. In this case, she said, the system failed. 

Welker said the prices found on the items in the baby aisle will be lowered to match the prices on the items in the healthcare aisle. 


Jessica McMaster can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter

Connect on Facebook