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Mika Stambaugh Director of Public Information 312.744.5365
Purchasing school supplies is always a top priority for families when it comes to ensuring students are prepared for the first day of school. To ensure that retailers are selling supplies at a fair price, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) has conducted an audit of 375 retailers as part of the Back to School Project.
The Back to School Project began in late July when BACP investigators visited businesses in each of the city’s 50 wards. Over the past months, investigators purchased school supply items, such as pens, notebooks, highlighters, wipes, zip-close bags, facial tissues, binders, calculators, etc. to identify outdated merchandise. The probe found 255 businesses in compliance, and 120 were not in compliance. Violations included outdated merchandise, and promotional or price irregularities resulting in 266 tickets being issued, which carry fines ranging between $50 and $2,000.
“This annual investigation keeps retailers on their toes and has proven to be a consumer fraud deterrent,” said BACP Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek. “My goals for this investigation are all consumers and parents are paying correct prices for school supplies and children’s school bags are packed with safe food.”
BACP wants to remind families that before purchasing school supplies they should be sure to check the store policy, read the fine print of sale advertisements, protect against overcharging, purchase from reputable sites when shopping online, keep all receipts, keep the packaging, check for a restocking fees, and return unwanted items promptly.
The Know Before You Send Your Kids to School campaign is posted on the BACP website and on all social media accounts for the department, @ChicagoBACP and /ChiSmallBiz. Through these channels, BACP offers shopping tips for parents, reminders on consumer recalls from the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, and encourages shoppers to check BACP’s Flagged Business List before you hire a day care, buy school supplies, or purchase food for lunches.
Launched in 2013, the Back to School Project underscores BACP’s larger mission to ensure consumer protection by holding businesses accountable for meeting the municipal code. This year’s probe reviewed more than double the number of retailers across the city, and issued 100 more tickets compared to last year’s investigation.
To access consumer protection information, report a problem or file a consumer complaint with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, call 311 or visit www.cityofchicago.org/BACP.