Let's face it - shopping can be an exhausting experience. And if you add in a couple of kids who, by the time you hit the cash register, are tired and fighing, you are just too distracted to pay attention to everything going through the scanner.
But you should. And here's why.
True Till Tale #1
I got a call from my Dad today. You won't believe what happened at the grocery store today, he tells me. So I bite and ask for details. It seems he paid his bill for the stuff my parents usually buy, and it seemed a bit high to him. Before he left the store he stopped and went through his receipt. Sure enough, he noticed that the chocolate covered raisins - of which he bought about 500g - rang up at over a kilogram. So off he went to stand in line at customer service. After they went back to a checkout to weigh it, they found he was right - it was over 900grams overcharged. So they gave him back his money. As he started to walk away, he took another look at his bill - and he was charged a rather large amount for lollipops (for my boys). So he turned back and said that he thought he'd been overcharged on all the items that went through the scale.
He was right. Every single item was wrong. He got back over $36. When he suggested this might be happening still and maybe others had been overcharged, he got a vague reply that maybe it had happened. Seriously - that makes me steam. Just think - a couple hundred people have been through that lineup - and if the average amount overcharged is $25 - that's $2500 of overcharging that could have occured. Likely more. Since everything was charging close to a kilogram over, that's a lot of error.
After speaking with friends and coworkers, I was surprised at how many people don't watch as items go through the scanner. And how many of them had no idea that things regularly ring up wrong.
True Till Tale #2
For a long time now I've been most retail stores biggest pain in the butt. I know who participates in the Scanning Code of Practice and I watch them like a hawk. I was first introduced to this when I bought a moisturizer and it scanned at $2 over the shelf price. The woman at the customer service desk refunded the difference then gave me back the rest of my money. I was surprised and she explained to me that when something scans wrong you will get it free up to a maximum amount of $10 and only on the first of an item that scanned wrong.
I was hooked! Some stores do it automatically, but if they have this posted on their door or at the till, and something scans wrong, I recommend that you call them on the wrong price and then remind them of the scanning code of practice. (nicely of course!) At the Real Canadian Superstore one manager actually told me that they only do it when the customer asks for it. They've been better lately but I was floored when I heard that. So now I watch and pretty much every time I shop there I invoke the code for them. It's amazing how much doesn't ring up right. And it's not just there, it happens everywhere. This is especially true on items that are on sale or clearance so watch those really closely.
So the moral of my Till Tales? Learn about the Scanning Code of Practice or if you live elsewhere, investigate what might be there to protect you. And watch that register. LIKE. A. HAWK. If you can't watch it all go through - don't leave the store until you've gone over the whole receipt. Once you leave it's pretty hard to show you only bought a pound of something instead of 3lbs. Or that you only bought one unit of an item and not 10. I'm willing to bet that by doing this you could save yourself around $10 a week on overcharges.
Go forth and spread the word! As consumers we need to be vigilant. It's more than a matter of principle, it's a matter of money in our pocket.