Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Importance of Honest Retailers!

I am constantly checking receipts. I am constantly filing my receipts ( by the way, did you pull your April envelope out yet for all your receipts and put it in your car? ).

I know, from past experience over the years, that items ring up wrong. And, I know they ring up wrong a lot. And, I also know, it is RARELY ever in my favor. It is almost always in the favor of the company.

So, as I stroll out of a store, I meander slowly so I can go over my full receipt. I have had issues where they have rang items up twice, or forgot the sale price, or the item was on the wrong shelf ( leading me to believe an item was another price ).

Everytime, I stroll right back into the store to get the issue fixed, of course. Because believe me, if I get into my car and drive away...I may never get the issue taken care of properly.

Watching your receipts truly is a way to manage your finances. Let me ask you? Do you work hard? Does your husband work hard? Of course, and that is your money. $1 here and $1 there does add up. It does! If I am going to hand my money to someone, it is going to be a charity of my choosing.

In addition, if you are a conscientious shopper like I am, we work hard to find the best deal on items. It puts all that sale shopping time we invested to waste if we aren't getting the appropriate prices.

Check those receipts. And, remember, Kroger has a Scan Right Guarantee, too, where you will get the item free if it rings up wrong.

So, let me tell you my little story from today.

My son starts his first Baseball practice tomorrow, and this is the first year he needs a cup. So, we went to our local Dick's Sporting Goods to check out what they had available. We found many different styles with most being about $30. Then, we stumbled upon a rack that had a row of them for $14.99 on a hanging rack. Perfect! Half the price.

Now, I am careful about making sure items appear to be in the right spot. This is not to say I don't ever get this wrong, but I know items can be in the wrong spot so I am always making sure the price appears to match the item.

So, when we looked, the cup we were buying was hanging on a row. There were four others hanging in the exact same spot. FOUR!! I felt pretty comfortable that this was the right product for that price.

We check out, we are walking to the car and I am going over the receipt and notice it rang up at $29.99. Now, wait a minute!!!

So, back I went. The girl that checked me out was super sweet. I rechecked the shelf before I went to the register ( was I wrong? ) and yes, there were still four others hanging in the spot.

The girl said we should be able to give it to you for the $14.99, hold on, let me get the manager to agree. Well, the manager was at the very next register checking out an elderly couple. I think they thought I was nuts when I started talking.....because this is how the situation played out.

The manager turned, looked at the product, and said, no..that is clearly a $30 product. We cannot give it to her for $14.99. Now, mind you, I hadn't asked for it to be marked down. In fact, if I grabbed the wrong one, just give me the right one for that price....I don't care.

The clerk told him that there were many on the rack for that price, and he said, no..they are in the wrong spot. And, he turned around, never apologizing or making mention it would need to be fixed.

So, then I interrupt him while checking this nice elderly couple out and ask if he can please go back and move all the other products in the wrong spot. He kind of looks a bit surprised. And, I go on ( and this is my main problem with any store that doesn't fix these issues ) to tell him that by leaving his products in the wrong spot he is causing his customers to buy their products at twice the price they think they are paying.

And, I went on to tell him I am a customer who checks my receipts, but many don't, and your store is basically stealing $15 from each customer who is going to pick those up and think they are $14.99. Since there were 5 in this spot, that is $75 of overpayment by customers. I do understand the store isn't making over what they should have..since it is a $30 product,but it is false advertising.

By this time, my lady had refunded my money and I stood at the end of his aisle while he finished checking the others out so he would walk back with me and I could watch him move the merchandise. Plus, if he didn't mind ( I was trying to be nice, by the way..not snappy or least I don't think ) could he help me find the right one.

So, he did go back there. He took them off the hanging racks and just laid them across the bottom of the rack. And, then low and behold...they had none in the $14.99 in the size we needed. Go figure! So, we need to come back or call when they get their next truck.

Anyway, it was an interesting experience, and I have done it before. Even when they adjust a price for me, I always ask...are you going to go fix the issue in your store?

I am A-OK with being an honest consumer on my end. I am. I didn't mind that I had to return the product. If it is a $30 product, it is a $30 product. I totally understand merchandise gets mixed around racks. I used to work retail when I was in college.

But, I do expect them to fix the issue once it is brought to their attention. It is dishonest on their part to leave products in the wrong spot with the wrong price tags. In this economy, consumers are spending more time than ever trying to find the best prices on products, and they don't want to get home just to find out they overpaid....and by $15 nonetheless.

Was I wrong to ask them to move their merchandise? What is your take on this issue?

Well, I will tell you this...if you take nothing else away from this post....check your receipts! Always!

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Chelle said...

I absolutely agree, they should fix the problem right then and there. I believe they should give you the price, it's their error. But I too wouldn't argue to get it, I'll pay what's fair.

Now just recently I was looking over one of my receipts and I found that the computer rounded up $.01 on something that should have been $1.00, I got charged $1.01. Now, I didn't go back to the store to get my penny back, but it kind of urks me. What would you do?

Carrie @ said...

What would I do? Ahh..tough one. If my kids were there, I might leave it. But, in all honesty, if I was alone I would go into the store.

Either way, I would write a letter to their customer service.

Why? This penny problem almost bothers me more than the whole $15 wrong shelf issue.

Did you ever watch Office Space? :-) OK..I know that is fiction.

But, if the item is $1, it is probably an item that moves alot...check out counter area, etc.

If you are at a mass merchandiser like a Wal Mart, etc, then there could be hundreds to thousands of people buying this product wrong. And, if it is the regular price and not a sale price, this could be going on for A LONG TIME.

1 penny times hundreds/thousands of customers does add up.

OK..maybe I am being silly, but does this store do this on other products, too? Are they randomly raising the price on items throughout the store knowing that no one will complain and thus making more reveue every year?

I mean, if they do this on a product that is $9.99, and they rang it up at $10, this would be a problem.

Why? It is known pricing technique to price something below by a penny because it causes people to buy the product, because it has an effect on them that they are getting somethin below $10.

I mean even when a realtor tells you to price a house, they will say price it at $269,900 instead of $270,000.

I don't know, I am sure I think to hard about such needless issues, but sometimes I do wonder..are the small things on accident or on purpose? Is it an honest mistake on their part?

I mean, I would still buy something for a penny more....unless I only had $1 on me. :-)

Oh, and I would definitely take it back at Kroger. It would be free!!!

Christina said...

I don't know how many times this has happened to me....seeing an awesomely priced item, it sits with 4 of the same products, and they ring up different! I tell the employees and they react like I'm either making it up, or that they don't care.

Business Mommy said...

I need to look this up. I think it's actually illegal for them not to give you the price it appears to be if it is as blatant as it was in your case. I remember something from a long time ago when my grandpa called the BBB about Zares or something (I said a long time ago.) They were in the habit of using the end cap displays for stuff, then putting the price of a different item on the sign.

I would have gotten mean, and I would have argued for the other price. And I would have reported them. I would have been polite while the other people were checking out, but after that, he would have gotten attitude.

I know that every once in a great while stuff rings up in my favor. Or I'll get to the car and notice that the cashier missed one of my newspapers in the stack. I let it go. I figure they have most likely cheated me and others enough in the past that a mistake in my favor is karma.

As far as the penny thing. Paranoid, yes. But I agree. (I'm also a conspiracy theorist, so I'm sure the penny thing is a vast plan to take over the world.) I wouldn't mess with going back for a penny though. Unless you want to start a Penny Pinchers Brigade where we all get together and gang up on them when we find the penny problem. If one of us finds a penny error, then another of us checks to see if the same error occurs at a different location. Etc, etc, etc, then we write a letter demanding to speak with the president of the company, if he/she won't see us, we go to the media and launch a full scale protest and class action lawsuit.

Alrighty then. I think we can say I got a little carried away. :) Let's just sum up by saying that yes, I agree with you, those pennies add up. But it's too much of a hassle between waiting in line, waiting to get the penny back, getting the eye roll and everything. It just isn't worth it. If it isn't worth the above scenario, then it isn't really fixing the problem anyway. But for the record, I do pick up every penny on the ground that I come across. The Target at Bridgewater Falls drives me crazy because on the way out there's some silver bolt or something on the floor and every freaking time I walk out, I see that flash out of the corner of my eye and think it's a quarter.

Holly C. said...

Thank you for taking the time to walk the manager back to the shelf. I probably would have just left, only because I wouldn't want to take the time.

cristy said...

Great post!!! I would definitely have gone back to discuss the price. The rest was great on your part. I don't know if I would have had the courage, although you are 101% correct. ;)

Wilson Wonders said...

You weren't wrong. They owe you an apology AND a thank you for showing them the error. Sounds like the manager was a bit of jerk. Have you contacted corporate customer service?

I know they do care about CS issues--I have done mystery shops there before.

Renee Richins said...

My husband works in retail, so I know this was not acceptable behavior on the manager's part.

Look up your state's department of Weights and Measures here

I am in Arizona and according to Arizona law, a "person shall not misrepresent the price of any commodity or service sold or offered, exposed or advertised for sale by weight, measure or count or represent the price in any manner calculated or tending to mislead or in any way to deceive a person."

To comply with State Law a retailer must achieve and maintain a 98% price scanning accuracy rate, or one error in a 50 item sample. Due to the inability to reach 98% in a 25 item sample, one error is also allowed in a 25 item sample. Stores that don't pass must fix the problems within 30 minutes or the items are taken off sale. Stores that fail can also face civil penalties ranging from $50 to $5,000 per month. Check out the UPC or Price Posting inspection results for the store where you shop.

In most cases I wouldn't go this far, but because of the way the manager handled it I would report this.

I bought curtains at Target and they rang up $20 more than I thought and it ended up that they were placed in the wrong spot, so the manager gave them to me for the lower price. They'd rather do that than have weights and measures stopping by as there can be a lot of fines involved.

Vicky said...

Way to go Carrie - it sounds like the manager was unhappy because you made him do his job! :D If I were the next customer shopping for that product (btw, I think my son and I are still scarred from shopping for his first cup, lol), I would be grateful to know that everything was priced correctly.

My husband just learned the "check your receipt rule" the hard way. Since I had surgery about 6 weeks ago, he had to do the grocery shopping for awhile. He went to Kroger the week that Pillsbury crescent and cinnamon rolls were 99cents. He got a total of 8 to take advantage of all my coupons. When he got home I checked the receipt and the crescents rang up at $1.59 while the rolls were $2.28 - a far cry from 99 cents! I made my husband go back to the store and get the money refunded. He wasn't happy about it but I bet he'll check the receipt next time (and I think he appreciates my money saving efforts a bit more)!

Pamela said...

Great job! Don't you just hate it when managers seem like it's such a hassle to take care of a customer? Unfortunately, many of us are in such a hurry we let those errors go because we don't want to take the time to deal with it or we hate confrontation. I am getting better about this since I've been coupon shopping and reading your blog. Thanks for all you do!

Rachel @ Surviving The Stores said...

You inspire me! :)

Yes, I would have said something about it, but I don't think I would have stayed around to make sure they did something about it. I should though. I think you did the responsible and right thing... thinking about other people.

I would still contact customer service though and file a complaint against that manager. If I owned a company and one of my employees treated their customers that way I would for sure want to know about it. And I would probably give the offended customer a gift card. :)

Karen said...

I also check my receipts while walking out. Just today I walked back through Target b/c I thought an item was rung up wrong and wanted to check the sign before going to CS. I love that you stayed and made him move them. It probably wouldn't have occurred to me to do I will! I most likely would have just returned the item if they did not honor the price. It's sad, but there are many customers that will move items, just to get a better price. I've also worked in retail and have seen it done. Too bad it effects the honest folks like us.

SavinMaven said...

Wow! Your "cup" example really bugs me b/c I assume that item couldn't be returned after use. So, if your son used it before you noticed the error or needed it right away (They don't sell those things just anywhere!), you would have been stuck paying double.

RE: Chelle,
Maybe mention it to someone next time you're in the store or call and FYI them so they can change the tag. There is the principle of the matter, so choose your words carefully if you do complain b/c some people won't "get" it otherwise.

Sariah S. Wilson said...

Funny - something like this happened to me today. I went shopping at hhgregg to buy some much-needed appliances, and they advertise free delivery/installation/and hauling away of the old appliance if you spend more than $497. The dishwasher I was looking at was over that price, and in the dishwasher area they had a sign advertising this deal. The manager informed us that dishwashers required a special installation that would cost $120. When we inquired about the advertised free installation, the only answer we were repeatedly given was that the dishwashers were separate from the other appliances. And the manager had no good reason as to why that sign was in the dishwasher area when it didn't apply to dishwashers!

I really would like to file a complaint against this store for what in my opinion constituted blatantly false advertising (and the manager made no apology or any attempt to move it away from that area), but I didn't know who to contact.

Kimberley H said...

I think you were absolutely right in what you did. In fact, I wish I had the courage that you do. But, now you have inspired my, so next time I will be "braver". Thanks for sharing and teaching us!

Shelby, Patrick and Kids said...

I think you were so right. Today at Hobby Lobby the cashier asked me how I was and I replied "great, everything I picked up today is on sale." Well... after we checked out and I was heading out the door I looked over my receipt and noticed one of the higher priced items didn't have a markdown. It was "only" a $1.50 difference but I made my husband turn back around and we returned to the same register. I waited in line again as he went back to check the product. When I showed the cashier she said "oh, those never go on sale." I pointed right to their fyler and at the same time my husband returned to confirm there was indeed a sale sign. She was very nice about it and my husband thought I was crazy for such a small amount of money... but he works hard and that $1.50 could easily buy food for our kids.

In Michigan there is a "Scan Law" that if you are over charged for a regular (not sale) item you receive not only the difference in price but 10x the amount up to $5. I have actually made money a few times by noticing the overcharge before I have left the store. It pays to pay attention!

Great job looking out for the next customer buying a cup for their son! (I have to do that soon too...)

Meags said...

From a retailer's perspective:

Sometimes the items on sale don't have the correct bar codes or the items are in the wrong spot because a customer has moved them. If we have a sale (I work at Barnes & Noble) and we have a buy 1 get 1 table and someone leaves a random book there, then we have angry customers who say "well it was on the table!". We've really had to cover ourselves and use signs that say "selected titles" on these promo displays.

Also, for the bargain books you may notice that there are two barcodes. One is on the front with a price on it, and the other is the one that is printed on the jacket. I can't even tell you how often customers put the book upside down on the register table and I don't even think to look if it's a bargain book or not, and then they come back and yell at me because I charged them full price.

Working retail has definitely made me more conscious of where I leave things if I decide not to buy them.

Amy said...

LOVE this! Thank you so much for this post. You are so inspiring. I have to admit that I might not have been brave enough to make the manager move the items to the correct spot. I have been known to move the items myself!

After being overcharged repeatedly at my local Wal-Mart, I have taken to comparing the bar code numbers on the product and the shelf to make sure I have the exact product. Then, I make a note on my list next to my item so I can remember the correct price for each item.

Whew! It is a lot of work to get the correct price! But, it is so worth it to me. A lot of times, I wouldn't buy a product unless it was on sale.

Keep up the great work, Carrie!!!

Allison said...

I think you were completely in the right. And if nothing else, I would say that it is good karma that you helped several other people who would have been overcharged through no fault of their own. Thanks from all of us who might've been there!

The Frugal Moose said...

I completely agree. I have a huge issue with this as well as the expired products. My store recently clearanced out some salad dressing with an expiration date of 08/2008. I wanted to try it because it would have been free, but once I checked the date I loaded up my basket with all I could fit and headed straight for the customer service desk. The girl was embarassed and followed me to clear out the rest.
I also want to point out that it is a two way street. I recently purchased dial hand soap at my Kroger when it was 10 for $10. Someone made a pricing error and it was 10 for $1.59 - I only got charged 16 cents. I went to a coupon friendly cashier who knows me, and he manually entered my 35 cent coupon when it beeped at him. I realized the mistake when I got home and called immediately. Sadly this was at the last day of the sale so there's no telling how much they lost.

Thanks for your blog. You have saved me tons of money.

Bargain Seeking Mom said...

Wanted to say that Rite Aid also offers you a free item (under $3 I believe) if they scan the wrong price. If item is more than $3 they take off $3 off the corrected price. Kmart was known to do this also, but not sure what their policy is now. Vons also has given me a free item for charging me the wrong price.
I truly believe in checking my receipt before I leave the store. Especially with coupons and double coupons.
I think I would have raised a bigger scuff b/c they had the wrong item on the wrong rack. Sears Essentials had done this and they corrected their error by offering me $12 off the toy that was put in the wrong place. I think you were more than fair and kind to them. I think he would not have taken the time to fix the problem and if another customer would have complained the cycle would have continued.
Thanks for your great site Carrie!

Sarah said...

I think it is unfortunate that there is such dishonesty. If it is a mistake, ok, but it seemed this manager knew what was happening!

Ever since I started taking keen note of my money and expenditure , I don't feel shy anymore to ask for a clarification of the mistake. Just happened to me this week at Walmart. I was at the fast checkout with my 3 items, and decided to treat myself to the 50 cents candy at the check-out. It rang up as 65cents. I know this usually rings up for 50cents. I mentioned this to the cashier, and she told me her (these are her own words) "well, this is walmart for you!"
know what I did, went to customer service and got back my 15 cents. Trivial? not in my books! Every cent counts!

Steph said...

Good for you Carrie! This happened to me at Macy's recently. I was buying a suit off a rack that said $79.99. There was also a $99.99 rack. When I got to the register, mine rang up $99.99. I told the woman that there were three others like it on the $79.99 rack and she wouldn't budge. I didn't have the time or energy to argue or make her move them, but I did walk out of the store without buying the suit. And I really, really wanted it. She didn't seem to care. I was livid for a day about it, but I wish I had taken the iniative you took. This kind of thing drives me crazy.

Together We Save said...

You are completely correct. I have worked retail too and I think it is false advertising if they won't give the sale price. I mean if there are others there you are left to think they are on sale.