KIYC: Investigation finds boardwalk shops overcharging customers

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NORTH WILDWOOD -

Shops on a popular New Jersey boardwalk have been overcharging customers, claiming to be collecting sales tax on non-taxable items, a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds.

Kane In Your Corner went undercover after receiving a complaint from a viewer, Tom Aldrich, who said three stores on the North Wildwood boardwalk tried to charge too much for clothing items, including hats and sandals. Aldrich says employees told him there was sales tax, even though New Jersey has no sales tax on clothing. “I probably wouldn't have paid attention to it if the first guy hadn't charged 20 percent, $1 on a $5 item. That's what set me off,” Aldrich says. 

News 12 New Jersey had a similar experience. Our producer visited five stores. In three, employees charged or attempted to charge too much, citing nonexistent sales tax.

At Romano’s Beach Store, the cashier asked for $8.54 on a $7.99 purchase. When the producer questioned why tax was being added to a clothing purchase, the cashier said, “we have some tax in America.” Another boardwalk business, Oh What A Store, overcharged the same amount on a similar purchase.

At Seaport Beach Outlet, an employee charged $10.69 on a $10 clothing purchase, again attributing the overcharge to sales tax. After our producer questioned the charge repeatedly, the store owner intervened and said there should be no tax charged. 

Kane In Your Corner later ran into that same store owner at another shop, Saint George’s Beach Outlet. He recognized our producer and began firing questions at her. “Are you (with) Consumer Affairs?” he asked. “Are you an officer for any Division?” When she said she was not, the owner appeared to relax. “OK, good, enjoy,” he said.

Romany Habeb, owner of Romano’s Beach and Oh What A Store, admits his employees should not have repeatedly overcharged Kane In Your Corner and Tom Aldrich, but he insists it was not intentional. “I tell my employees it's not taxable,” he says. “If one of them made a mistake, we shouldn't.”

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