Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Little Scam

This is something I've experienced several times, and recently it happened again. I was buying a few items at a local store and when the cashier said the amount, it didn't sound right. I had a 4.00 item, bottle of water and a pack of cookies. By my reckoning it should have been about 6.00 total, but the cashier said "seven dollars and three cents please."

I asked her what I was paying for, because my items didn't come to that much. She said, "Yes, you've got yada yada yada and it's seven dollars and three cents." So I took each item and asked the price. She finally realized it wasn't right, and said, "Oh (insert little giggle here), I guess you don't want to pay for my daughter's Slurpee, huh?" Her teenaged daughter, standing close by, looked mortified.

Now folks, maybe this was an innocent mistake. But it's happened to me too many times, almost always in convenience stores. Often when I pay with a debit card, I don't necessarily look closely at the items on the receipt, just at the total.

I know convenience store and fast food places can be very hectic places to work, and people make mistakes. It's bound to happen. But this particular mistake happens too often for me to think it's always accidental. Candy bar? Ring it up and let the next customer pay for it? Coke? Let the distracted guy with the debit card pay for it. It makes me wonder how often I've been hit and not noticed the overcharge.

So how often do you just hand over money, or sign a receipt, without really checking your items against what you paid? I am wondering if this is just something that happens to me, or if it is more widespread. Since my incidents are not always local, I think it must be a little trick that is pulled fairly often in many places.

What's your experience? Has this ever happened to you?

7 comments:

Lucky13 said...

I can't say that this has, but then I'm not great about checking the receipt...now I'm wondering.

Janet said...

I've never had that happen. But I'm usually the one you see looking down at my receipt walking out of the store. Things ring up wrong a lot. Of course, that's good at Kroger's, you get a free item that way.

wyliekat said...

We encountered a variant of this at a store in the north, when we took a family camping trip.

Six bagels = 12 dollars.

Now, I realize we were in the north and fresh foodstuffs come at a higher premium, but there is NO WAY that a basic bagel costs 2 bucks a pop.

The fine young cashier rung it through and looked at us blankly when we raised our concerns. Then she shrugged and moved on.

Vive la customer service.

I had to wander around, clutching ye olde bag o' bagels until I found a lady who realized that this was an absurd pricing error, and rectified it in the system.

Really? It was the complete apathy of the cashier that really set me off. I know it's not the most exciting job in the world, but you might like it better if you put a LEEDLE bit of caring in, no?

Matthew Burns said...

I used to have this to happen to me all the time, and always at Kmart. Now I either avoid there or watch them like a hawk while ringing things up AND I go over the receipt after I get to the car.

I imagine this is widespread and is a way for the workers to subsidize their minimum wage jobs.

You'd also be surprised how many people will not say anything, even if they do notice an discrepancy in the bill.

There's always gonna be a few societal vultures to take advantage of the unwary. Sad.

Good for you for standing up, Granny. If it was intentional, that cashier might think twice before trying that again.

Kathy said...

I'm glad you brought this to my attention. I'll have to start paying more attention. I have just always trusted what they have said the total was. Now I'm wondering if this has also happened to me.

Thanks for the heads up.

Mary Garrett said...

I have had this happen also, once buying ice cream in Spain, and I was very pleased with myself that I realized the error with foreign money and remembered enough Spanish to get correct change back.
I think it is a common thing. If the customer doesn't notice, the employee has some extra cash; if they do, a quick apology and no repercussions. When I mentioned an incident to a friend, she said that she always watched her change carefully at that fast food restaurant. I called and told the manager that it was apparently a common occurrence at his store and suggested that he had a responsibility to his employees as well as his customers to do some training and supervision on ethics. (I'm such a busybody).

Granny Sue said...

It sounds like this is a common little scam, then. How sad. But working for minimum is sad too. I don't mind the extra dollar here and there, but I do like knowing that I'm giving to a cause!

As Janet says, at Krogers if an item scans wrong, you get it for free. Seems like if you get charged for things you don't buy you should get your stuff for free too.

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