Cooking with Alison

Always Pay Attention When a Cashier Scans Your Items

In Grocery Budget Challenge, Mind Your Cents on August 12, 2016 at am

In all stores, items are regularly mispriced, scanners have reading errors, discount codes fail to apply properly, and cashiers make human errors. In rare cases, some businesses intentionally try to overcharge you for services or goods. So, I always pay very close attention to the prices that ring up when a cashier scans my items, especially when they need to apply coupons or discount codes. The same goes for restaurant checks. Also, don’t forget to see if a tip has already been added to your bill.

You’d be surprised by how often people get overcharged without noticing. I’m speaking from personal experience as well as previous retail experience. I felt compelled to remind everyone to be careful, because I recently experienced very poor customer service. I would have been ripped off had I not been paying attention and had I not known the store’s policies.

Recently, I found myself assembling a gift basket at the last minute. I was missing a few key items, so I went to a Superstore. I chose a fruit bowl that was priced at $9.99. But when the cashier rang it up, the price came up as $12.99. I informed her of the discrepancy, so she asked a stock person to confirm the price. The stock person “couldn’t find” the fruit bowl and suggested that the cashier arbitrarily charge me $10.99. She made the price adjustment, but I told her that I would go back to the shelves and take a picture of the price tag. Sure enough, the bowl was priced at $9.99. She then called a manager over. The manager looked at the price tag information and explained that the store had failed to remove the old $9.99 price tag, but that she would adjust the price for me. That was when I politely reminded her that the store policy is to offer mispriced items for free. She agreed. So, instead of being ripped off by the lazy stock person and the incompetent cashier, I ended up getting the fruit bowl for free. I hope this experience encourages you to 1. pay close attention to the prices that ring up for your items, 2. learn more about your store’s policies, and 3. stand your ground.

I have countless stories of mistakes that I’ve caught from all sorts of businesses. When I was working for Costco, I would check receipts at the building exit and catch cashiers’ mistakes. Every now and then, items would accidentally get scanned (and charged) twice. In other cases, waiters have given us checks from other tables or charged us for items that were cancelled and never received; department stores have had discount codes that failed to apply the right percentage; grocery stores have had reduced-to-clear discounts that weren’t programmed into the UPC code; clothing stores have had sale codes that worked on some applicable items but not others, etc., etc.

Perhaps the worst example, which I’m sure has gone unnoticed by most people, is from Banana Republic. At least a year ago, I went to return an item and I wanted to purchase a completely different item (different prices). The store said that they were able to do both on a single transaction. But after I got the receipt, I double checked the math and, sure enough, their system ripped me off by not refunding the tax from my returned item. Their system merely took the subtotal (pre-tax price) of my ‘return’ item and subtracted it from the price of the ‘purchase’ item. I brought it to their attention and asked them to redo everything over two separate transactions – a refund and then a purchase. I told them to tell head office and to correct the programming in their systems, but I don’t know if they ever did.

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  1. Here are the list of chains that can use the Scanning Code of Practice: http://www.retailcouncil.org/scanner-accuracy

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