Checking receipts can really pay off!

Checking the Fine...Price

by Jenny Lin

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Savvy shoppers know all about clipping coupons and checking the ads. And thanks to modern technology, there are numerous websites that make it quicker. However, there is one oft-overlooked way of saving money, which may not save a lot of time (in fact, it can be quite a headache) but can be very effective and certainly important. And that is checking your receipt.

Since becoming a parent, and thus more concerned about saving money and with considerably more shopping to do, I have been shocked at how often I am charged wrong. And while I'd be perfectly happy never to have to, it does pay to look.

One particularly distressing, though now almost funny, shopping trip to a major supermarket ended up with at least half the items charged incorrectly. I went, fussy twin babies in tow, to correct the items. After returning home, I once again began wondering how the total ended up as much as it did. Looking closely again, I found several more wrong items. I charged back to the store and corrected those too.

Later that day, I composed a letter to the store's headquarters. Some weeks later, I had an apologetic phone call from the district manager, followed by a less apologetic phone call from the store manager in which he did at least offer a gift card to try to retain our loyalty. He also asked that I notify him personally if it happens again. So the next time we were over-charged, I went and asked for him. Again, I received a gift card.

There is another grocery store, which I am particularly fond of, where it pays even more to check and where fewer hassles are usually encountered. This store, as all should, gives a full refund for any mischarged item, and there is rarely much wait to process it, which is a blessing with young children.

There are supermarkets that I try to avoid because mischarged items only mean waiting in a long line at customer service all to save a buck or two for something that is their fault to begin with.

Perhaps we are conspiracy theorists, but my husband and I believe some stores do this, or allow this, on purpose, knowing few people will check, or if they do, will decide complaining is not worth the hassle. Most may be honest mistakes, but I have seen items I pointed out to them as wrongly marked never get corrected.

If more people checked carefully, and if more people complained and wrote letters, more stores would either be more careful with their accuracy or at least grant better compensation to retain customers.

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