February 16, 2010

What If You Are Overcharged ….. Or Undercharged

by

Money_Tree

It’s happened to all of us.  We’re shopping and have a mental note of how much things should cost and we diligently watch the scanner.  Eggs. beep. Cereal. beep. Honey. beep. Wait!  And all of a sudden we’re in full on battle-mom mode.  Having worked in retail, I know that humans program these machines and mistakes do happen.

Nonetheless, the voice gets higher and out comes ‘Excuse me, maam, but I think I was overcharged for the honey, it’s on sale.’  Crackers. beep.  Cheese.  beep.  ‘Excuse me, maam.’  ‘I heard you, I’ll get to it in a minute.’  Meanwhile I could have been charged $86 for the cheese and I would never know because I’m trying to right a wrong here.  This is my money!  The tension is building and I try to keep calm so as not to come off like a crazy woman.

A few exchanges and the error is corrected.  War averted!  Now, I wasn’t rude or crass or nasty or anything like that.  I’m not like that and I truly feel empathy for those who work retail because I’ve been there and I know that it’s a thankless  job.  But, it’s a job and most try to do it as best they can.  But when it comes to my money, I want to make sure I spend it wisely.

So, what happens if I am undercharged?  Should I pretend the item was really on sale?  Do I let the cashier know and pay ‘more’ (er, the correct price)?  The circumstance is quite different from being overcharged, and so is the response.  I’m too honest and I always let the cashier know.  I don’t mess with Karma!  I’d say that 99% of the time the cashier just gives me the ‘Oh, honey, it’s OK’ look and keeps going.  There have been a few occasions where the correction has been made.

I’m  not here to debate whether it’s stealing or not or who is right or wrong.  I just wanted to point out that in both instances someone is unjustly enriched and it’s not fair — either way.  You decide what you want to do.  But, in any case, be pleasant and remember that the cashier didn’t do this to you.  Don’t take it personally if you are overcharged (unless, of course, you know it was personal), it’s human error somewhere but not usually the cashier you’re dealing with.  Similarly, if you are undercharged and it’s a great deal don’t take advantage of the situation.

Being a good customer means that you can politely request to be charged the printed/advertised price.  It also means being respectful of the business you patronize.  My general rule is to mention any incorrect price.  Most of the time I get the best of everything since many stores have written policies that address this matter and give the benefit to the customer.

What do you think should be done?  Has this ever happened to you?  If so, what did you do?  Please share your experiences.

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