Alternative Pricing System (APS)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is APS?: Alternative Pricing System, or APS, is a system other than individual price marking that is designed to inform consumers of the price of particular products and exempts the retailer from the requirement of individual price marking.
Why do I have to certify?: The City certifies stores that use electronic scanning devices for pricing, in place of individually price marking each piece of merchandise, to assure that consumers are charged the correct price at checkout.
Which stores have to certify?: Any retail establishment that relies on a system other than individually price marking items needs to apply for APS certification. For example, grocery stores, home improvement stores, and convenience stores tend to rely on APS systems and, therefore, need to be certified. If a store relies on scanning UPC symbols to ring up merchandise and does not put price tags on every individual item, then the system has to be certified by BACP.
Which types of stores are exempt?: Retail Stores that put prices on each individual item do not need to be APS certified, even if they use electronic scanning devices at the register. Business Establishments that are not primarily retailers, such as restaurants, stores that provide on-floor, available sales staff to assist customers, or stores that sell primarily by order only, do not require APS certification.
When do I certify?: You should have your store certified if your store is currently using an APS system.
How often must a store be certified?: Retailers need to be APS certified every four years.
What is the process to become certified?: The first step in becoming certified is to contact the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. You may complete an application online. BACP will mail a payment voucher to you, and you can visit a payment center to pay the application fee or mail the payment to the address on the voucher. Next, an inspector from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will visit the store and test your system. If the system is within the parameters set forth in the rules and regulations, it will be certified and a certificate for public display will be sent to the store.
How do I schedule an inspection?: Inspection dates are not coordinated with stores. Once the certification fee has been received, BACP will arrive at any time thereafter, unannounced, to inspect the business.
What is the accuracy requirement for APS certification?: To be certified, an APS must not overcharge more than four percent (4%) of the total number of items scanned during inspection.
How many items will be checked during APS certification?: The number of items depends on the number of registers a store has, but will not be less than 25 random items.
What is the difference between a small store and a large store?: A small store is an establishment with two or fewer electronic scanning devices on the premises. A large store is an establishment with three or more electronic scanning devices on the premises.
Do I have to certify each store separately?: Yes, each store has to be independently certified, although the fees are lower for additional locations where a retailer has multiple business locations with the same ownership.
What happens if I fail the first time?: If a store fails the first inspection, a Notice to Correct will be issued, giving the retailer time to remedy the errors. Retailers will be required to pay re-inspection fee and Inspectors will return to store to re-inspect.
What are the inspection fees?: The inspection fee for large stores is $500 for the first store location and $100 for each additional location. The fee for small stores is $250 for the first store location and $50 for each additional location. If a second inspection is required a fee of $100 for large stores and $50 for small stores will be required for each re-inspection.
Why is there a fee for certification?: The fees charged by the City of Chicago for certification cover the administrative costs of having inspectors test and approve the systems.
How do I renew or apply for APS certification?: A renewal application is sent to the business before the 4-year certification expires. Not receiving an application, however, shall not be a defense to a charge of failing to renew.
How do I submit the application?: APS applications may be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Complete applications may also be mailed to:
Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
Attn: APS Certification Program
2350 W. Ogden Avenue, 2nd Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60608.
If you have questions regarding APS certification, e-mail the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection at email@example.com.