Action Line: Every penny counts

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Consumers could be paying an extra cent for every beer or soda purchased. It just depends on where they shop. That’s because the beverage fee stores charge is not regulated by the state.

The state raised the beverage container fee last year from one cent to 1.5 cents. That’s on top of the five-cent deposit fee.

The stores can pass that on to the consumers, and some pass more than others.

“Wal-Mart is also six cents straight,” McCully resident Serena Yim said.

Yim is a savvy shopper. She has a good reason.

“I’m unemployed right now, so I have to watch my dollars and cents,” Yim said.

So when she learned Safeway was charging two cents for the container fee, she called Action Line.

Other stores like Wal-Mart and Longs Drugs charge one cent.

“In these economic times, you watch your pennies, and it’s a penny here a penny there, but it’s still, you add it up,” Yim said.

The state says retailers can pass that container fee to the customer any way they want.

“It’s up to the retailer whether they want to pass that on to the consumer or not along with any other fees or charges that they have,” State Department of Health Deputy Director Gary Gill said.

For every container that’s brought in to the state, the distributor pays six-and-a-half cents to the state. A nickel eventually goes back to the consumer for every bottle or can that’s turned in to the recycler.

One-and-a-half cents goes to the state to pay for the recycling program. To avoid dealing with the half-cent charge, some stores just round it up or down. Some customers say it’s no big deal.

“It’s not gonna make a huge difference on the bill. If you’re gonna buy the soda anyway, you’re willing to pay whatever price,” Aiea resident Brandon Asuka said.

But for others, it’s a fee that they don’t see until they check the receipt. So Yim says, consumers beware!

“It’s up to us to shop here and be aware and demand what would be fair, cause that’s all it is what’s fair,” Yim said.

KHON2 tried to contact Safeway to ask why they’re charging two cents instead of one, but they did not respond.

If you have consumer concerns, call Action Line at (808) 591-0222 Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or email us at actionline@khon2.com.

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