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Some Airport Shops Overcharging Travelers

  About one in every three businesses sampled at the Pittsburgh International Airport AIRMALL charges a higher price on at least one sampled item that is identical or “substantially similar” at a non-airport location.

That's according to the Allegheny County Controllers Office’s annual report of  "street pricing” at the post-security shopping center, which includes restaurants, shops and convenience stores.

“We have seen some examples each year.” said Controller Chelsa Wagner. “Each year that we do this audit we bring them to the attention of the management at the AIRMALL, talk about the items that are overpriced, and the stores where they are found.”

The study found 8% of the 147 sampled items were overpriced. Wagner says items that are overpriced are common and are something a person might pick up to and from their flight.

“This year’s audit we saw such things as peanuts, or a Red Bull drink, or a Pirates lanyard. Frequently we will see some sort of sports memorabilia or just those sort of grab and go items.”

The audit also outlined 11 of the stores that were repeat offenders and recommended AIRMALL management institute penalties.

“Really this is a slap on the wrist” said Wagner “It is just identifying the stores  and letting them know that each year there is going to be a review, they have to adjust their prices, but frankly there is really no penalty.”

But if there is no punishment will anything change? Wagner said it is something a legislative body should consider.

“There really aren’t any teeth so to speak for any of the entities that are found to be noncompliant.”

Wagner added the primary customers affected by these price hikes are local, due to the large number of flights coming in and out of Pittsburgh every year.

“While fifty cents or three dollars price difference might not really catch somebody’s eye immediately or hurt their pocket book, collectively it makes a difference.”