I saw this article today: Turns out Target has to pay California customers $1.7 million from scanned items that rang up too high.
It made me wonder… Don’t people pay attention to register prices?
My mom taught me to always keep a close eye on the register readout. Of course, she used so many coupons and sales, it was pretty much in her best interest to make sure it all went through. (She often uses coupons, rebates, and store sales to let her donate items to shelters. They always need toothbrushes, deodorant, tampons, etc.)
But I grew up watching her often (politely) point out when something didn’t seem to be discounted. So I always keep a keen eye out, as items are being scanned.
A few months ago, Tim and I actually saved ourselves quite a bit of money this way. We had gone in to get some on-sale cereal. We bought about 15 boxes of the stuff. But when it rang up, the cereal was at its normal price. Turns out, the smaller size was on sale. (There was only space for that larger-sized box. Apparently, this store didn’t carry the smaller version.)
Tim insisted that, since it was the only size available, the store should honor the sale. I was shocked when the manager amiably agreed — although she specified that, in the future, we should remember that some stores’ inventories are different. In other words, we wouldn’t get to use that argument on her indefinitely.
If we had just accepted the total, we would have overpaid by about $30-40. (Though I can’t really imagine anyone not noticing that big a discrepancy.) But between my vigilance and Tim’s stubbornness, we also got the sale price on the bigger size of cereal. Talk about win-win!
Of course, the point is that you should watch all prices — sale or not. I often choose items based on price. It isn’t just sales where this can happen. If a tag has been pushed too far over to one side, you can pretty easily pick up a $7 item, thinking it’s significantly cheaper.
The tags at most of our local stores are often not even close to aligned with the products. So it has taught me to look carefully at the tag before putting something in my cart. I compare the brand name, item name and weight. (And, of course, we should all always be comparing items’ prices by weight, not just the overall price. I hope that’s second nature to everyone already.)
Perhaps this is when the self-checkout lane is the most useful. As you ring up items, you get to verify the price. It also keeps you honest: You have to handle the item while you see its cost. I know there are a few times that I winced at the price of a treat Tim or I picked up. It usually made me much more conservative on future grocery buys.
So what about you? Do you keep your eye on the register’s readout?