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Honest Frugality

Guest post by Caroline Allen from The Modest Mom

Last Thanksgiving, I decided to hit a few stores during the early morning hours of Black Friday. When checking out at one store, I noticed that the checker wrapped up a candle I was buying and was putting it in the sack.

The problem? She hadn’t rung it up yet.

I had an instant battle going on inside of me. My first thought was “Oh, it’s only $3.99, just let it go. It’s her fault, not mine.” Then I chided myself, knowing that wasn’t the right thing to do.

I told her that I didn’t believe she had scanned the candle yet, and she looked up at me surprised. I could see it all over her face. She was tired, and people had probably been very difficult to work with that morning.

To her amazement, I was right, and she thanked me as she scanned the candle. It would have been so easy to just let it all go, but I felt so much happier I felt knowing I had done what was best.

Another time I was shopping at a local grocery store. Upon arriving at my van I found that a package of cream cheese had not been paid for. I was with all four of my little children and my baby was crying. I decided to just leave, as the thought of going back in the store to pay for it was exhausting.

But the next time I was in the store (which was actually several months later), I grabbed a package of cream cheese, and asked the cashier to scan it twice, telling them what had happened previously. Once again I received a look of amazement, and a heart felt “thank you” from them.

As shoppers, if we stand together on principles of honesty and truthfulness, with how much more respect might we be treated? Sure, there will always be those crabby cashiers who dread coupons and treat you badly. But we must be sure that our endeavor to be frugal (which is a worthy one) never gets in the way of our endeavor to be honest in all we do.

Dishonesty costs all of us more money in the long run.

Consider this: the stores that we shop at lose thousands of dollars — some hundreds of thousands — each year in either stolen merchandise or merchandise that simply “slips through the cracks,” such as the examples I gave above. They cannot completely absorb these losses, but instead they must distribute them across their product lines in the form of price increases. This may only result in an increase of a few cents, but, as we all can attest, those few cent price increases here and there quickly add up!

So, the next time you go out and shop and you anxiously watch the computer screen as the clerk scans your items, don’t watch just to make sure you aren’t paying too much for an item, also check to make sure you’re paying enough.

Caroline is the wife of Sean and mother of four children seven and under with a fifth blessing on the way! Besides homeschooling and supporting her husband in his business, she runs a business from her home where she sells modest maternity and woman’s clothing — The Modest Mom, and is a consultant for Lilla Rose. She also enjoys blogging at The Modest Mom Blog!

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127 Comments

  • Isn’t it pretty rare that errors are in the “favor” of the consumer? I appreciate and agree with this article, but I also wonder about how many times during the same time period, was the author overcharged by businesses?

    Personally, I’ve been overcharged four times in July. Once by my heating & cooling company, which tried to re-charge me for my annual service plan even though I’m covered until August 2012 (price: $239). Once by Joann’s: I was charged for 2.5 yards of felt but only purchased 1.5 yards. I called, as I didn’t catch it on my receipt, and they told me I’d have to drive all the way back to the store, which would cost more than the amount I was overcharged. The other two times were at the grocery store when items rang up at a higher price than advertised. And Sunday at Walgreens, the price of the toothpaste rang up higher than advertised so I did not go through with that purchase. I cannot even recall the last time I discovered an error in my favor!

    • Amy says:

      At some stores (Kroger family stores) they will give you the item free (up to a certain dollar amount) when you catch a price ring up higher than the shelf price. They do it even if a clerk or stocker forgot to remove last week’s tag from the shelf! I’m very vigilant everywhere but particularly at that store. I’ve scored a few free items which always makes my day.

      • Naomi says:

        This happened to me once, too. I didn’t know it was policy. Good to know.

        • Emily says:

          The cashiers won’t necessarily advertise that it is a policy. Just tonight I was in Kroger for the organic blueberries on sale 2/$5. I had 2 of them and the rang up wrong. Both the cashier and the manager were just going to adjust the price; I had to remind them of their price guarantee policy!!

          • Naomi says:

            So did you notice the mistake after you paid or before? Because the time I got free chicken was when I noticed the mistake after I was already at home.

          • Emily says:

            Naomi, I noticed when I was at the register. I only was buying a few items, so it was easy for me to catch it. I felt really bad for the people behind me with 1 box of cereal (I was in the express checkout lane), but I wasn’t leaving there without my free blueberries!! The manager, after I reminded her that I would get one free according to their policy, gladly took the price off for one of them and then gave me the other at the sale price. I”ve just noticed that, unless you say something about that policy, they aren’t going to voluntarily give you the item for free.

      • Beth L. says:

        Ingles has this policy. Last month, two items in one transaction rang up higher than they were marked on the shelf. After the store associate checked the shelf price, she took both items off my total. One was a cheap pack of tortillas, but one was an $18 bag of dog food. I almost flipped when I realized I was getting it for free!

      • Cheryl says:

        The dollar amount is up to $5 at Kroger stores, although they did it for $5.49 for me. I didn’t even know of the policy so imagine my shock when I went to customer service to return it since it wasn’t the price I anticipated and it was ice cream(not a necessity), and they said heres your $5.49 back and keep the ice cream!

    • Brandy says:

      You have to really watch your statements and receipts. Last week I was overcharged at Target by $5, but I didn’t notice it until I got home….over an hour away. Then, I checked out at Mcdonalds and noticed a couple of days later that my card had been scanned that amount 3 times. I was able to get the McDonalds issue corrected, but it really made me wonder how often I have overpaid for something.

    • Kacie says:

      Sure there’s errors that are NOT in our favor but I feel like it is part of my job as a responsible shopper to check the receipt and make sure I was charged correctly. It would be nice if stores never made mistakes but the reality is that giant corporations like Walgreens DO make errors. I shop at stores that I trust are doing their best to be fair and honest and then do my part in making sure that I was dealt with fairly.

      • BethB says:

        Yes, this. Just because stores make mistakes in their favor doesn’t mean we’re off the hook morally when they make a mistake in our favor.

        • queuepawn says:

          Very well put, BethB. When we see an error in the STORE’S favor, we tend to be grumpy about it (and demand it be fixed), but look at an error in OUR favor as “good luck.” Neither attitude is correct–we should POLITELY correct either error. I’ve made this a habit and have surprised several clerks by being honest about a mistake in my favor. I try to check my receipts before I leave the store–sometimes hard to do with a 4 and 2 year old–but worth it when I catch a mistake (no matter who’s favor it is) because I can get it corrected right away. Thanks for a great article Caroline and thanks for posting Crystal.

          • I could not agree more. Sometimes we don’t realize how this approach affects our witness without even saying a word. For example, if my son is wearing his I Love VBS shirt and I point out an error in the store’s favor; we have been a silent witness and my son has learned a valuable lesson that we don’t just read the commandments, we live them.

    • I think it is just good to be vigilant both ways. This way either way you are paying what you are suppose to.

      I once stood in line again to pay for .09 seeds that rung up $.00 at the Dollar Store- lol

      jen

    • Emily says:

      Yes, I agree. It is probably far more common that the consumer is overcharged. I saw on an episode of Oprah once that retailer mistakes (such as things not ringing up on sale, etc) cost consumers BILLIONS of dollars each year!!

    • Leah says:

      This happened to me last week at Target, I was putting the kids in the car and found a bottle of soap that I didn’t spot underneath the carseat in the cart…The baby was crying and we were hot as can be but I put them right back in the cart and we went back and got in line.

      I was surprised that the security measures in the store didn’t pick that up, but it wasn’t even a consideration to not pay for it.

      • Emily says:

        I just wanted to comment that I used to work for a large dept. store and while we had sensors to detect stolen merchandise, they did not work. They were basically a “decoy.” I thought it was pretty sad.

        Honesty is certainly always the best policy! Great post.

  • Kim says:

    I read your story. Glad there are so many honest people out there. My husband is in the military and so we move often. While we were stationed in WA State, my sister 4 children were living with us (we are a family of 5). I went to a local mom and pop type grocery store to do some shopping. When I got out to my van and was putting my groceries in the car, I realized that they hadn’t rung up the 3 half cases of soda. So, I put 2 in my car and then took the last one in and had them ring me up for all 3. They were very surprised. But when you have 7 children looking at you, you want to make sure set the best example that you can!

    • Kim: Awesome – you rock! We have 5 children and last week we were shopping at a local store (in WI) and the kids all had taken a donut out of the bakery case – I thought the cashier had gotten them, but when I checked the receipt when I got home, they weren’t on there. I called and they wrote them down. Yesterday we went back and the children reminded me that I had called and we owed for them. Yes, we NEED to be good examples for our children! Great job!

  • I agree…it is SO important that we give stores the honesty that we want and expect to get. For myself, I feel like if I let things slide one time I’m more likely to let it slide the next time. The first time or two might not be “big”, but I imagine that I’d feel more and more comfortable as time went on…and that is NOT where I want to head with my integrity!

    As the previous commenter stated, though, stores often make errors in their own favor, and we most certainly need to be on the lookout for that! One time I was charged $36 for ONE orange pepper. I hadn’t been watching the cashier ring each item, but I did question why the total was so much higher than my calculations had estimated. She told me I’d “bought a lot of produce” and that was that. She wouldn’t go back through and look, and there was a line behind me. I paid and then poured over my receipt until I found the error. CS gladly refunded my money and let me have the pepper for free…but what if I hadn’t noticed?!

    • BethB says:

      When I was working retail in college (almost 20 years ago now – yikes!) I accidentally charged a woman $33 for a pair of trouser socks. They were 3 for $10, I was keying in manually, and just hit an extra “0”. She was buying tons of stuff so neither of us noticed in the moment. Thankfull she found the mistake and came in the next day. I was so glad!

  • Carolynn says:

    My father always said….”You have a greater chance of choking on stolen food than that purchased”. Regardless of a scanning error or change given back…at any store….Honesty is the best policy. Isn’t that what we teach our children?

  • Emaliza says:

    This happened to me before with a cookie sheet – two stacked together and I only paid for one. The next week when I was in the area I stopped at the store and explained what happened and that I would like to pay for the extra cookie sheet (I even had a coupon with me!). A look of shock to follow and a request to repeat the story to the manager. He looked at me and said “oh so you need me to credit you the cost of a cookie sheet” and I said no and explained, now for the third time, that I had only paid for one and came home with two. I wish I had a video camera to record the look that came over his face as he started to understand what I was saying. He said that he has never had someone comeback to pay for an item, thanked me, AND told me to keep the cookie sheet free of charge! 🙂 Now I always feel blessed and rewarded when I use it!

  • I whole heartedly agree. I got home from the Dollar tree one night and realized I had a pair of sunglasses in there that I did not have in my basket. I searched the ticket and sure enough I wasn’t charged. I went back in a couple of days later and asked could they add the dollar to my purchase..explained what happened…only my cashier wasn’t as friendly. She was more upset that I would cause her reg. to be out of order at the end of the night 🙁 Though the manager came over to see if there was a problem and thanked me for my honesty.

    • Yvette says:

      I don’t see how that would have made her register out of order. She just had to ring up a pair of sunglasses (that would also help with inventory) or have the manager manually key in the dollar.

  • Kacie says:

    Great post! After returning home from hitting a New Years Day sale I was looking at my receipt basking in the money that I saved when I realized I couldn’t find the price for a two dollar item I had gotten. I got back in the car and drove to the other side of town the same day (afraid that if I tried to do it another day they couldn’t give me the same sale price) When I brought back the item and said it wasn’t on my receipt the clerk was extremely confused and had to ask why we were back several times. When she finally understood that we were back to PAY for the item she gave us two godiva chocolate bars for free to thank us for our honesty! Those bars cost more than the item! It always pays off to do the right thing, even if it’s only a couple dollars worth!

  • Amy says:

    Thanks for the post. I absolutely agree. “Character is who you are when no one is looking.” A few weeks ago I accidentally used the wrong coupon on an item, and the cashier overrode it when it beeped. I realized the mistake when I got home, so when I went back to the store I told Customer Service what had happened and how I had made a mistake. They did not ask for me to give the money, of course, but the lady was suprised and touched by my honesty. Let’s stand out and be different!

  • Gail says:

    Good for you !!! I do the same thing as you and sometimes get some strange looks too. 🙂 However, yesterday at CVS, I was standing in line behind another customer and I listened to her as she told the cashier/manager about the previous customer who had just left the store with a refund. The lady in front of me asked exactly what she had brought back to get that refund. The manager told her and the customer’s eyes about bugged out of her head. She proceeded to tell the cashier/manager that she seen that lady in the store “putting items in her purse” but didn’t say anything because she was a little unsure of how the situation would be handled and didn’t want to falsely accuse anyone and start a riot in the store. However, the customer watched her walk out of the store to her car where another lady was waiting and noticed that the friend handed her a receipt and bag. Then a few minutes later this same lady came in the store and returned all those stolen items and received a CASH refund !!! By the time anyone got out to the parking lot, they were gone. I was furious and so was the other customer and the manager. These are the type of people who make the prices within the store go up because the stores have to compensate some where for theft. Thank goodness for the honest people who do the right thing. I have a conscience that wouldn’t let me sleep if I would ever do anything like that, which I wouldn’t. I just thought I’d tell you about this situation because it really bothered me and it fit in with your topic (to some degree 🙂 Thanks for listening and letting me get this off my mind.

  • LeAnn T. says:

    This JUST happened to me (in a big way!) yesterday at the vet. I had paid for my dog’s vaccinations but they forgot to ring up the boarding/kenneling for the weekend & the receptionist paid no attention. It was $61.00 less than it should’ve been! To a family with little children, my first thought was how nice it would’ve been to have that extra $$ for the week, since we had a lot of extra expenses over the weekend that left us with about $10 for the week! Not much for a family of 5! My second thought was how wrong it would have been to not tell her. Very glad to be able to trust that we have enough, and that through our faith, we will get through withOUT that extra, dishonest $$ that was not ours (but could have been). We all depend on the trust of each other. And we have to see EACH small instance as important, because they are.

  • Holly says:

    Honesty is always the best policy. When we catch errors while shopping, I always speak up and try to remedy the situation. It would weigh too much on my conscience if I did not do anything. Love this article!!!

  • Lysbeth says:

    I figure if it is okay for me to let it slide, then they will do the same thing. At goodwill once, I didn’t catch it at the time with kiddos in tow, but I was charged 101.00 instead of 10.10. I was using credit at the time. I know. Anyways they said they had already caught it by the time I got home and went through my receipts and were already fixing it. But I also have had someone run the recheck to make sure they scanned something and yes I also got the “What? You don’t think we are charging you enough? Are you crazy? You want me to what?” But it is like anger. It isn’t about them, it is about me. I would feel like I had taken advantage of someone and them my kids would see me being dishonest. And is that really what we want to teach our children? “well, if they don’t catch it, it isn’t stealing?” Really? Way to be honest Frugal Momma!

  • Dielle says:

    Love this! Just yesterday I got to my car and realized I hadn’t paid for a 2 ltr bottle of soda. The cashier was so surprised when I came back in with it.

    And last summer I took my daughter with me (and a bunch of relatives for my SIL’s wedding) to get pedicures. In all the chaos and chatting with family, I walked out without paying. A couple of hours later I realized what I’d done. Everyone in the nail shop was completely shocked when I came in and told them what I’d done and that I needed to pay for them, pointing it out to other customers and employees who hadn’t been there when I walked in. It felt good to do what’s right, but at the same time I was a little sad that it was such a big deal to be honest. It ought to be the norm.

  • Sakura says:

    I think this is a wonderful story. It’s a lesson I try to teach my kids. I once called a sporting goods store that put a pair of wristbands in my bag that I didn’t purchase. I found them when I got home. I politely called the store to let them know what happened and that I would bring them back the next day when I was over by their store. To my surprise the manager told me that if I returned that they would charge me for shop lifting since I didn’t pay for the item. What the…?!?! I couldn’t believe it that he didn’t believe me that they made the mistake. I didn’t go back, instead I wrote their corporate office a letter and mailed the item back with a copy of my receipt to show them I didn’t buy it. About 4 weeks later I got a thank you gift card for $25 to spend at their store. It really does pay to be honest!

  • peever says:

    I agree that we as consumers need to keep a close watch while checking out because I am often charged the wrong amount and there’s been many occasions that a cashier has missed a coupon, but honesty IS the best policy.

    I admit that I’ve gotten home to realize I wasn’t charged for a $2-3 item and have let it go because the thought of loading up the kids and going back to the store is exhausting and that’s not right. I was once given an extra $600 cash back from a teller. My receipt was correct, but she accidentally gave me the amount I deposited instead of the cash back. I used to be a teller and I knew she wouldn’t be able to figure out where she was off at the end of her shift, and boy could I have used the extra $600, but I turned around and went back and returned the money to a very grateful teller.

    I truly believe that if you do good deeds, good things will happen to you.

  • Samantha says:

    This happened to us as well. After a grueling trip to Target with my husband & 2yr old, we realized the paper towelsunder the cart weren’t paid for. He was tired & cranky and wanted to be home already, and so was the babe. They were in the car & I said he had to wait, that I had togo back in & pay for them. Tough decision in a way, considering the frustration& anger waiting for me, but an easy one as well, because it was the right thing to do. I HATE it when I get over charged & don’t catch it. I hate having to go all the way back, and wait in lines, to get things fixed because they messed up. Irritates me! So I do my best to check while in line or at least check before I leave – that’s the best we all can do I think. Being an honest, fair person is an example I want for my child.

  • jane says:

    Good for you, it happened to me too, I bought a sheet set at target and the cashier didn’t notice there was no beeping sound or look at the screen to confirm because he would have saw that it didn’t scan, and so I had to point it out to him, I felt glad afterward, the thing wasn’t cheap, but it’s worth more than to have a guilty conscious for the rest of the day for me.

    • L says:

      I agree with this and have been both overcharged for things and also have had things that were not scanned. Although mostly overcharged for things. The problem is I usually have three kiddos with me, one with a disability, and so I do not check my receipt until I get home or the next day to keep my best attention on my kids. What do you do when something is not scanned… because I don’t want to go back to the store and have them think that I stole something.

  • Sarah says:

    This happened to me a long time ago at Target. I went to buy a few things off of a wedding registry and the guy ringing me up missed a few of the items. I came back to the store because not only did I want to pay for them, I wanted to make sure they came off the registry. They assured me they did and told me that they wouldn’t take my money because it was their error. I felt like I at least tried and they also told me that no one ever does what I did. It felt weird to me that they said no one ever brings things back if they weren’t charged.

    I did have one item recently that Target didn’t charge me for because I think the cashier was new. I did not notice at the time, otherwise I would have said something. I let that one go because there have been mulitple times recently at Target that something rang up higher or a coupon didn’t come off and I had intentions of going back for a price adjustment but never got around to it. Normally I would have taken it back to have them charge me though.

  • AnneJisca says:

    I think God can bless finances, making it stretch longer, and I think it honors him greatly when we are honest in our frugality! Great post!

  • staci says:

    I had a similar situation not too long ago that gave me a great opportunity for a character lesson with my oldest daughter. We had read a business sign a couple weeks earlier that spoke about character reflecting what we do when no one is looking. That particular day, we were shopping for a few items for her birthday party. We checked out and while we were loading out bags into the van, I realized that we had failed to pay for the $.99 number ‘9’ birthday candle that was still in the cart. We finished loading everything into the van and then headed back into the store with the candle to pay for it. I reminded my daughter of the sign we had discussed just a couple weeks early and told her that this was a perfect example. Even though no one at the store would ever know that we hadn’t paid for the candle, we would know and it is always best to do what we know is right!

    • Dreya says:

      The lesson that this taught your daughter is no doubt worth more than 99 cents “saved” anyway. 🙂 A wonderful teachable moment!

  • Heather says:

    Years and years ago back when I was first married (21+), I went to use an ATM machine at a bank near our apartment. I took out $60 but the machine gave me $120. The bank was not yet open so I waited until regular business hours and went in with my receipt and the cash to return the extra $60 that I had been given. At first, they thought I was nut case. Seriously. But after some investigation, they discovered that the machine was broken and was spitting out extra money. They gave me a T-Shirt, a water bottle, and a big thank you. Later on they sent me a follow up thank-you letter. They had lost a lot of money and were thankful that I had brought it to their attention.

  • Good point! Thanks for the article.

  • Sierra says:

    Well said!

  • Helene says:

    I was at the Salvation Army store a few months ago and a woman was talking to the manager and another woman either a friend or family member, in another language which is common in this area (and which I understand well). I watched as the manager hovered over the cashier and rang up not much of anything on a cart load of items. Final cost $5. And yes I know the prices were more than that.
    I went to Walmart a week ago and bought a $5 Curious George dvd. My grandson opened it and we discovered a Russian “compliments of Nestle Nesquick” dvd (that is all the words I could figure out). Instead of thinking maybe they need to check on the supplier they treated me as a criminal when I told them about it. Checked out a cd at the library and discovered the cd wasn’t in it when I got home. Same day actually. Told the library about it and I will be on the hook to pay for it if the previous person says they returned it. No mention of the library needs to check items when they are brought back or when they unlock the case at checkout.
    Gotta love honesty.

    • Salvation Army is really good about giving – it may have been the situation with the people you saw checking out – my great aunt lost her home and our local SA told her to help herself to whatever she needed from their thrift store.

  • Kim S. says:

    My husband once bought fireworks at one of those roadside stands and their credit card machine wasn’t working, so they wrote down the info. They called back later to say it wasn’t going through and double-checked the CC number, but it still wouldn’t work. My husband took the cash out of our account and drove all the way down to the place (about 30 minutes away) to pay them in cash. They were in so much shock that he would make sure they got the money that they gave him $40 worth of stuff for free, which was more than what he initially spent in his original shopping trip.

  • Wow! This happened to me just last night – but somewhat my fault! I found a bottle of baby tylenol that had fallen underneath the car seat and I didn’t find it til I was outside loading the van – unsure if it had been paid for I shrugged it off and waited til at home – sure enough it hadn’t been paid for! Great idea to have them scan an item twice when you buy it again! I’ve returned things and paid for them before but when you have all 3 kids loaded and one of them crying to go home – it wasn’t an option then! And in response to some of the earlier comments – one year I had 4 times when Wal-Mart ran my credit card and the purchase never went through – I had receipts for the items saying that I paid for them and they totalled over $250! I called WalMart customer service and told them what happened and they asked me what I wanted them to do about it. I said – I want to pay for the items and they told me it would be too much hassle so enjoy the free items! I was OVERJOYED! God blessed me with free items and a clean conscience!

  • I greatly appreciate this article. Frugality should never trump our morals or our witness. I have now become a follower of The Modest Mom because I have fallen in love with her heart after reading this post.

    • Susie B says:

      I agree, Alice.

      This post is very timely, as it comes after I lifted up a quick prayer to the Lord, over struggle over the sin of greed–in wanting to use the Pier1 imports coupon posted yesterday multiple times (which is actually ok if its at different locations), but I know my heart was tinged with covetouness. I was really blessed/rebuked by this post–to remember that I shall not be ruled by temptation to love money and to love saving money above loving God and trusting in His provision– more than my own ability to take advantage of every deal out there. Thanks, Moneysavingmom and Modest Mom, for this post and for cutting straight to the heart issue.

      • Amen, I sometimes struggle with contentment, too, and what you said really strikes at the heart of the matter. Loving saving money more than loving God is just as dangerous as loving money more than God.

  • Kristen says:

    Several years ago, I was checked out by a very new cashier at Target, I had an entire cart full of stuff and wanted to use a gift card I was given by my MIL. After the cashier scanned the gift card she gave me a receipt and thanked me. When I got out to my car I checked my receipt and saw that instead of processing the gift card she had accidentally pushed the cash button. I reloaded the cart and went back into the store to pay. I have been given so much grief when I have told people that I returned to pay. I was raised that even if it was a mistake, if you know better it is stealing. Others may not understand but my in my heart I know I did the right thing. And now that I have a daughter I plan to raise her the same way.

  • Brandy says:

    I love this post! My husband is a retail district manager, so I am affected very personally when his stores lose money as it reduces the amounts of his bonuses. I hear a lot of customer stories, and I can tell you that those honest people are remembered by the store employees, unfortunately because it is rare. He has had many customers who have amazed him with their honesty.

  • A few years ago when I was recuperating from a back injury my daughter and I had stopped at an outdoor craft fair so I could get some excercise. Before we left I let my daughter get some lemonade and a cookie. Back at the car, when I was very worn out and in a lot of pain, I noticed that she still had the money in her hand. Unfortunately she had forgotten to pay the vendor for her treat and they hadn’t noticed. I was VERY tempted to let it slide but felt that it set a poor example for my daughter. The lesson stuck in her mind, every time we go back to that craft sale she always says “remember when…”

  • Felicia says:

    My husband is a Loss Prevention Manager and I used to be a retail store manager. Yes sometimes things slip by the cashier, but when your job is based on store shrink (loss of product), then small acts of honesty like this really do a heart good! Thanks for being honest, even if it could have saved you some money=)

  • colleen says:

    I totally see where this person is coming from but I find her situation a little extreme. I am not going back in a store to pay for cream cheese that was probably $1. I have been overcharged so many times I can’t count them, so if I get under charge by a $1 I call it a wash! If it was a big item or something I noticed while I was checking out I would say something but I won’t make a point to go back in there just for that or to bring it up 2 months after it happened. I 100% believe we need to be honest consumers but lets be real, it’s not worth my time or gas money to go back to the store of a small item that is the cashier fault they didn’t ring up.

    • jen60647 says:

      @colleen -I agree with you. Does that mean we’re the MSM “bad girls”?

      I can’t think of a time when the cashier missed ringing up an item I placed on the counter but I can give you 10 times in the last couple of months when I was overcharged for an item and had to go to customer service to get my 25 cents or free item, but more likely I just say fuggeddaboutit and leave. *** I’m looking at you Meijer – you scanned $4.00 for a $1.00 bottle of saline solution and had no one working at the CS counter – plenty of people milling about getting this and that but no one working. ***
      Honestly, if I were to notice an item in my bag but not on my receipt after the fact I would consider us even. What lesson am I teaching my kids? “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

      • Beth L. says:

        I guess I’m an MSM bad girl too, cause I usually take this on a case-by-case basis. If I’m already home and I noticed I was undercharged just a little then I’m not worrying about it. I’m a very honest person (my husband and I waited in the Wendy’s drivethru line for over 10 minutes last week because we were given change for a $20 when we paid with a $10), but I’m not going to be driving back to a store for something that’s less than $1. And no, I don’t feel guilty about that. If I wouldn’t return to the store to get that amount back, I’m not going to return to the store to tell them they didn’t charge me 25 cents.

    • Kathleen says:

      I’m sorry, Colleen, but I have to disagree with you. Taking something without paying for it is wrong, whether it cost $1000 or $1. If you realize you haven’t paid for something, but keep it anyway, that’s stealing. If you would let a small item slide, then you do not “100% believe we need to be honest consumers.”

      If it’s the right thing to do, then do it, despite the time or gas money involved. God will bless you for it.

    • Holly says:

      I disagree with your philosophy as well. Don’t you feel convicted in your heart/conscience that you were stealing from the store by not paying for the item after you found out about it? I would drive however far I needed to in order to remedy the situation. I am not entitled to keep the item because a mistake was made unknowingly at the time, whether or not it was my fault.

    • Jill says:

      I tend to agree with Colleen here. I think the spirit of the piece is spot on. You should always bring up mischarges in the line if you notice them. I certainly do this. And if I realized that I was undercharged a larger amount (say $5 or more) I would certainly go back in or drive back to the store. But a $.99 cream cheese? It would really depend. If I am by myself and not in a hurry, I would most likely go back in. But with my toddler and baby in tow in 95 degree heat to stand at a long line at the customer service line? Not a chance! I also wouldn’t stand in line to get a $1 refund either. So I do at some point call it a wash. And I think it goes without saying that you would always mention to a service person (like a contractor) that they had undercharged you. Or if it was a larger purchase, absolutely.

      • Jill says:

        Oh, and I think it is really unfair to equate what Colleen is talking about to stealing. It is absolutely not stealing. Now if someone hides things under their cart in hopes that a cashier won’t notice it, THAT is stealing.

        • Kathleen says:

          How is that not stealing? I understand it was an accident and that being undercharged is not your fault, but as soon as you realize you owe money for it and decide not to pay, that’s theft. In the eyes of the law, I don’t know, but in the eyes of God, definitely.

          • Beth L. says:

            I really don’t think I could confidently say that not returning a $0.99 block of cream cheese is “definitely” stealing in the eyes of God. I feel that God judges people by their hearts, and not by isolated incidents.

          • Kathleen says:

            Beth,

            I can see how it seems like such a small thing, especially when most of us have been overcharged by a store (and maybe decided it wasn’t worth the hassle to get our money back). However, if we are undercharged or not charged at all for something, how can it be okay if it’s $1 and not okay if it’s $10?

            Would the right/wrong threshold be different for different people? For example, $1 is a lot of money to some people, and $10 is hardly anything to other people. Would it then be wrong for the first person to keep the $1 item, but okay for the second person to keep the $10 item, because their perception of the value of money is different?

            Yes, God judges us by our hearts, but it is what we think and do in these isolated incidents that shows our character.

          • Missi says:

            I’m all about honesty, but come on! If she had a cream cheese hidden from the eyes of the cashier that’s one thing, but if the cashier saw it and bagged it without scanning it its another. What if she hadn’t checked her receipt? Would she have been stealing then? If I was in the parking lot still I would have gone back inside, but if I made it all the way home there would be no way in heck I would drive back. My time is worth money too! If you follow your line of thinking, the store just “stole” your money/time because you had to go back. I think saying this is definitely stealing in the eyes of God is dangerous legalistic thinking.

          • Kathleen says:

            Missi,

            I’m sure I’m making lots of friends here! lol I’ll preface my comment by saying that I don’t mean anything to come off as harsh or mean, and I’m trying hard to word things respectfully. I know that it’s hard to convey emotion through text, so while I’m not getting mad at anyone for disagreeing with me, I hope no one else is getting angry either.

            Beth is right in that “God judges our hearts.” If I walk out with a block of cream cheese and honestly never realize that I wasn’t charged for it, then I am not guilty of stealing. But as soon as I realize I didn’t pay for it, I have to make a choice: Make it right, or keep it anyway.

            And what about the point I brought up in my last comment, about the perception of the value of money? If it’s okay to keep the $1 cream cheese, what about a $5 pack of meat, or a $10 blouse? Where do you draw the line? Is the line different depending on your income (ie how much $1 is worth to you)?

            Is the store guilty of “stealing” your time/money when they overcharge you or whatever? Maybe, but I don’t think it really matters. I have a responsibility to do the right thing, no matter what everyone else does. Being wronged doesn’t make it okay to respond in kind.

            If I feel a pang of guilt and think, “Gee, it looks like I didn’t pay for that cream cheese. I really ought to pay for it…” then going against my God-given conscience would be sin.

            I think it’s interesting that the first sentence of your comment echoes something Colleen said: “I 100% believe we need to be honest consumers, but…” and “I’m all about honesty, but…” If there’s a “but” then it’s not “100%” or “all about” anything. Sorry if that’s semantics, but it was really bothering me.

            Other comments have mentioned that returning to the store to pay for an item can be an opportunity to witness to others, to show that we, as Christians, are called to a higher moral standard. These sorts of things can also be opportunities to grow as Christians (in patience, for example).

            I feel that we are charged to always do the right thing, even if it’s small or a pain in the neck. Does that make me a dangerous legalist? I am more afraid for those who make exceptions: “Taking something without paying is wrong, unless…”

            I’ve avoided making connections to matters much more serious than purloined cream cheese, since I don’t want to hijack the blog post or start a heated debate. I will say, though, that making exceptions for small things makes it easier to make exceptions for bigger things.

    • Emily says:

      Gotta say I agree with Colleen here too. I have also been overcharged soooooo many times (almost weekly at Kroger) and, most of the time, if I hadn’t noticed till I got home, I never bother to go back. Countless times I have also had cashiers fail to scan a coupon or 2 if I have a huge pile. My philosophy is that it all evens out at some point. Obviously, if I was grossly undercharged for something, I’d go back and pay, but undercharged by $1 and I don’t realize until I get home……not worth my time to go back (sorry, but it’s true). However, I like the idea of just having the cashier scan something twice the next time I buy it……if only I can remember. It’s a great idea!!

      • Emily says:

        Guess I should also add that I do about 95% of my shopping WITHOUT my kids. If I had my kids with me the majority of the time I shop, I’d absolutely give more thought about the opportunity to teach them a great lesson.

  • Amber O. says:

    I absolutely agree. I have 2 daughters and 1 on the way, and i cannot think of a better way to show them what it is to be honest. My daughter has witnessed me do the same thing before a number of times. I am proud to show my daughter honesty and character! She is only 5, but she will even try to call me out. Today, i was in CVS with her and I was grabbing some Crest toothpast that was on sale with a coupon, and she said to me “mom, that is not the right toothpaste! you have to get THIS one” (pointing to the picture on the coupon) HAHA. Well of course it was for any Crest toothpast for a certain size. I love that even at 5 yrs old she feels good about making the right decisions even when mommy is not looking. 🙂

  • Heather says:

    Great story! I’ve had it happen similarly where I knew I would lose my mind if I had to drag all the kids back in the store, so I have waited until the next visit – just for not-scanned items though. I wouldn’t wait if it were extra cash returned to me because that could get a cashier in trouble.

    I have also had workers simply refuse to rectify a situation – like they literally cannot understand the honesty factor, or they can’t be bothered to fix it. So sad. But at least I tried.

  • JenK says:

    It’s nice to read this post and the responses. It’s so true that events like this are a great time to teach our children what the right thing to do is. Even if we don’t discuss it with them explicitly, I am sure that they are watching and learning how to behave from this. (And that’s also why I always take my shopping cart back to the cart corral, even if it’s far from the car. How can I tell my kids to pick up after themselves if I just leave carts sitting around in the parking lot willy nilly?)

    I once discovered that I had not been charged for a movie that I had purchased at Wal-Mart. It was a BluRay new release, so it was a little over $30. I had already opened the movie and my kids were watching it when I was looking over the receipt and saw that it was missing. I called the store to see what I needed to do, and the person on the phone had to call the manager. I then explained it to the manager–several times–before he understood what I was saying. When I went back to the store, I again had to explain to the cashier what I needed–that I needed to pay for the movie, but I didn’t want to take it home. It’s disheartening when employees are so unfamiliar with honesty that they don’t know what to do when a customer tries to do the right thing.

    • Jessica says:

      Your story is exactly why people often don’t do the right thing. They make it so hard! How long did that take you to pay for that item? Driving, talking, explaining, waiting in line. Most people can’t spend 2 hours fixing a $1 mistake, especially if they miss 2 hours of work to do it. Efforts to correct a tiny error can end up costing you a large chunk of money and that’s really NOT right.

  • Was at the gas station the other day, paying with cash. I counted $72 in the car before heading in to the cashier, paying, then pumping. After filling up, the total was $68.01, so I went in with a nickel to get my change. The cashier handed me $9 and wondered why I was confused. I finally managed to explain that she’d given me too much change. She checked the receipt and had typed in $77. I handed her back $5 and walked out. It’s entirely possible that I counted wrong before I handed her the cash, but I’d rather be $5 poorer than have it on my conscience that I knowingly possibly stole from them. Either way though, she still owes me $0.04 as change from my nickel!

  • Amber says:

    I think sometimes that we forget that someone is always watching. Whether it be our children, friends or the Lord above. Thou shalt not steal is a commandment. And not paying for something is stealing. No matter how small.

  • Heather says:

    I just had this happen last week. I went to Winco and purchased several items from their bulk area. I got over a pound of nuts @ 7.90 a pound. When then cashier was ringing stuff up I was still putting stuff on the belt so I didn’t notice. As I took my stuff out to the car I thought that it was rather cheap. I then noticed that she entered the wrong code for the nuts. I was charged .50 instead of around $8. When I explained the situation to the CS rep she was so shocked that I came back. I’ll admit I had second thoughts but I know honesty’s the best policy. I told the CS rep that if I wanted Winco to remain cheap I needed to do my part as well. After we got things taken care of she actually came around the counter and thanked me.

    I am also so happy to read that there are others that do this. Sometimes I feel so alone in being an honest person. I had a realitive admit one time that she forgot to put up a box of diapers and wipes and just walked out. I think my concous (sp?) would eat the living daylight out of me!

  • When I notice an error, it’s on my conscience until I fix it, so I try to do it quickly! Once I went back to a store to pay for a 10¢ can of tomato sauce that was missed. The lady who rang it up had tears in her eyes—I love thinking of the effect it has on others, not just myself, when I try to live honestly. It makes me feel good and it makes the store employees happy—and surprised—too.

  • Tammy says:

    I have been undercharged at Target.I paid the bill and as I got out into the car I kept thinking this seemed to low.Sure enough the pair of pants I had bought weren’t paid for.I went back and paid for them.I told the lady and she agreed that if I didn’t pay for them then while I was wearing them God would cause them to rip!

  • Kaidi says:

    I had an incident with Walmart where I discovered too late that there was one item that I hadn’t paid for. But I couldn’t go back to the store, so I called them and asked if they could take my payment over the phone. They said no but next time I come in, to pay for it then. Well, I kept the box and next time I went, I marched right up to the Customer Service desk and told them that i want to pay for it. And I did. The lady was surprised but I thought it was only natural.

    • Kaidi says:

      Forgot to add that it never even crossed my mind to keep it. It wasn’t mine, so why would I? I don’t let my kids eat snacks I haven’t paid for either – I think it’s stealing.

  • Carissa says:

    This has happened to me in both ways several times. At Walmart I paid with cash and after the cashier made change I pointed out that it was $5 short. She simple gave me a $5 bill and I was on my way. When I got home and was putting away my groceries I found a $5 bill in one of the sacks. I called the store and told the manager what happened. I said I would bring it back the next time I came in and he told me to keep it, thanked me for being honest and also encouraged me to spend it at Walmart. Another time I had my kids in the cart ages 2, 4 and was 8 months pregnant with #3 in the winter. I realized an item had not been paid for because my son was sitting on it. It was something I buy regularly so I asked the cashier to ring it up twice the next time. You’ve got to be honest with the small things…

  • Michelle says:

    When I was sixteen, and had just learned to drive, I had run in to the grocery story for my lunch. The cashier accidentally gave me two dollars extra in change, and I didn’t notice until I made it to the rite-aid next door. I went back in to the cashier and handed him the money, telling him what had happened, and he looked at me with this look of dawning epiphany that even teenagers can be honest. It was years later, when I worked as a cashier in a different grocery store myself that I discovered how going over or under in your till can actually get you written up.

    On a separate note, yesterday, when I went grocery shopping, my grapes accidentally tipped and they lost about 15 or 20 of them out of the (huge) bag. It was busy, and they offered to get me a new one, but I told them not to worry about it. That extra 25 cents of grapes that got tossed was worth the look of relief on their faces. Sometimes, it pays to just be kind.

  • Lindsay says:

    Its nice to see there are so many honest people out there!! I had an issue about a month ago at WalMart. I was just purchasing a 2 liter soda and 2 boxes of the Nexcare bandages that were free after coupons. For my purchase of $1.25 I gave the cashier a $20 bill. She entered it in the computer as $100 and proceeded to pull out over $90 in change. I immediately told her I gave her a twenty and then she started arguing with me that I had given her a hundred. I was like listen, I know my finances and I have not had a hundred bill in pocket in MONTHS! After five minutes of arguing (and her taking the twenty OUT of the register showing me it was a hundred) she FINALLY looked at the bill and realized what she had done. By the she was so flustered I had to tell her what my change was going to be!
    I could have easily left that store with a lot more money than I had before, but I just couldn’t. And I believe in karma…the next day driving through a grocery store parking lot in another town….laid a brand new package of 12 rolls of Quilted Northern toilet paper. Not one person could be seen in the parking lot. I received toilet paper for being honest and not taking too much change!!! LOL =)

  • Angie says:

    Great post! It’s amazing to see how God works through people to remind us of His commandments. Thanks for all you do Crystal!

  • Funke says:

    Great lesson for us all. I have a cashier at my Kroger who is always scrutinizing each of my coupons and always trying to come up with why I could not use them and each time she would find out that she was wrong. In short I think she just has issues with couponers. I was at Kroger about 2wks ago, I made a purchase, my total was supposed to be $9 because I had calculated it before I got to the Register. My total came to $6 and I told her it had to be more than that. She realized her fault, I paid the $9 She was surprised and she thanked me. I’m sure that sent a message to her. That’s what God expects me to do.

  • Rose says:

    It happens. At Walmart, many years ago, I was leaving with my three little ones and in a rush. The cashier had not charged me for a dishwasher detergent. I told the kids we’d catch it next time. Well next time turned out to be a few months longer than I expected. The kids did not forget. One night close to the holidays, my husband was going to Walmart to purchase some Christmas gifts. The kids and I reminded him of the detergent. The cashier was amazed at his request to charge him for detergent that he wasn’t buying and didn’t quite know what to do. She called the manager, who was so grateful, that he actually gave my husband a discount on some of the items that he was purchasing. Totally unexpected but we were thrilled!

  • Patti says:

    I had a similar incident at Aldi’s this week – except that a can of crescent rolls was put in my groceries by mistake. It belonged to the girl in front of me so I found her in the parking lot and gave them to her. She was so surprised. I may have paid for them ( I didn’t check the receipt) but I just felt like she needed those rolls for her meals this week and would be quite unhappy when she got home and didn’t have them. I am quite frugal, but not at the expense of others.

  • Cathy says:

    It takes a lot of work to stay on top of cashiers and coupons. I live in So Cal and during my 7-10 shopping trips a week, there are always – no kidding, always! – errors. I no longer have little kids to distract, but now I shop with my dad, who has dementia and tends to wander off.

    Most mistakes are in the store’s favor. Just this week … let’s see, I’m on my way back to Von’s today for a $5 refund because their 99 cents/Hormel store coupon didn’t ring up on Sunday, and Saturday I got two bags of chips free from Ralph’s because they rang up $1.79 instead of $1.49. (The same thing happened last week but I didn’t catch it – my loss – and how many OTHER people paid $.30 extra each bag for the past 2 weeks?) Last week, I forgot to remove two $1 Healthy Choice coupons from my stack when the deal wasn’t so good, and the Stater Brothers cashier put them through anyway. I realized it only when I got home, which is 10 miles out of town, but wouldn’t have gone back anyway because the week before, the cashier failed to ring up a $2.50 coupon.

    I guess my long-winded point is, there are soooo many mistakes being made (in my experience) these days, that I try to be honest “on balance,” rather than addressing every single mistake. I don’t have the energy to fix that many mistakes!

  • Great article! My Mom always taught us to be honest no matter how small it seemed. She even once sent a $.50 check to hotel for the postcards they didn’t charge her for, the manager ended up using her letter/ check as an example for all his employees! Honesty is always the best policy 😉

  • Many restaurants will offer a free piece of cake if you tell the waiter it’s your birthday. I’ve heard of people who falsely claim it’s their birthday just to get the free dessert. I don’t think I could live with the guilt of having the waiters serenade me under false pretences. Thrifty is one thing: Shifty is something else!

  • Vikki says:

    I truly believe in this principle. I recently had three $4 coupons at Walmart that were giving the self-check machine fits because the items were $3.88. The cashier tried her best and scanned them several times. It finally looked liked they took. My total was rather low when I finished, so I checked my receipt. Sure enough, each coupon came off twice, a $12 error in my favor. I took the receipt to customer service to give them back the $12. They really didn’t know how to handle it. It took two more cashiers and some major wrangling to return $12!.
    I had my 12-year-old daughter with me. It was a hassle, but I’m glad I got to model choosing the right. Honestly, keeping that $12 would hurt my “cosmic karma” more than it would ever hurt Walmart.
    p.s. I love the “thrifty, not shifty” comment above!

  • Debbie says:

    A good reminder that doing the right thing isn’t always easy or the most convenient. Recently, I’ve been guilty of forgetting to pay for items in my cart that have been hidden under my son’s carseat, have found them when loading my bags into the car, and have had to return back to the store to pay for them, even though it is a hassle. But I want to set a good example for my 3 y/o who is shopping with me. Even if he doesn’t really understand, I know I need to do the right thing. A few times, I’ve also caught some cashier’s mistakes, like forgetting to scan a few items, and when I’ve brought it to their attention, they usually wave it off.

  • Julie says:

    Most of us are so quick to point out when we’ve been overcharged or a coupon didn’t double or something else not in our favor. I think we should be just as quick to point out when the error has been in our favor.
    I can remember a few times when I was undercharged for an item. In all cases, Customer Service thanked me for pointing out the error and told me to keep the windfall.

  • Cathy says:

    When I was in high school I had a part time job as a cashier in a discount store (before Walmarts, I’m pretty old). They had a probation period for new employees. My first night my cash register was $5 short, so they told me to be careful. It was very busy and a couple of times I gave too much in change (cash registers didn’t tell the amount then (1960s). Any way both times the customer corrected me and gave me back the overage. My cash register was perfect that night. I was so grateful for their honesty.

  • Connie says:

    Love this article! This just happened to me the other day. I was able to run errands with just my two year old son (which is rare). I usually have him and my 3 year old son. So I planned LOTS of errands for the day. We checked out at Target, got out to our vehicle and my son pulls out a book from under his leg and says “Here’s my puppy book Mama!” It was from the $1 spot so just a cheap thing but I felt SO guilty. I knew we didn’t have time to run back into the store or we’d never get everything done, but I felt so horrible. A couple of days later I had an appointment so I swung over to Target to make a return, grabbed another book from the $1 spot for them to ring up and explained what happened. There were two girls working the service desk and both were very appreciative for my honesty.

    On the other hand, just yesterday at Walgreens the cashier was having a hard time getting my coupons to scan. I had two alike 50 cents off Qs and she thought both had scanned. But I looked at the receipt and only one was showing so I pointed it out. Do I let that go? No. So how can I feel like Target (or wherever) should just let $1 go? Or whatever the amount is.

    Honestly I don’t think it comes down to prices at all. It comes to down to honesty pure and simple. It’s one thing if you neve realize you were undercharged but if you realize you were, you are honest about it.

  • Great post, Caroline. I have also gone back in the store when I found an item in the buggy un-paid for. It may have very well been the cashier’s fault, but I truly believe it is our fault if we choose not to do the right thing.

  • Toni says:

    I was at Publix on Saturday morning to get the 50% off Kellogg’s cereal. I was very surprised to see that I had saved much more than I thought I would have. After looking at the receipt, I discovered that the register was ringing the cereal up at 50% off and then taking another 50% off. I let the customer service clerk know and she let the manager know.

    It worked out in my favor and they let me keep my cereal for the extra special price! But it made me wonder how many people would have gone through the checkout before saying anything.

  • Kim says:

    What a great reminder to do what is right! My memory verse this week ties right in: Psalm 119:36 NIV “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.”

  • Jennifer Gonzalez says:

    It is incredibly important to make sure we (as customers) are getting the right price and correcting it when we aren’t even if the item is not scanned. To say that it is ok to not say something when the cashier forgets to scan an item because at another time you were over charged on another item, is still dishonest. I pried myself on honesty and it really upsets me when I see people being dishonest, I wonder to myself “how can they not feel guilty” or “How can they live with the guilt”.
    As important as it is to be honest, it is even more important to teach our kids to be honest too. Once at a dollar store my daughter (3 or 4years old) found and walked out, without my knowing, a tiny set of keys (like to a diary or hand cuffs). When we were at our next stop I discovered she had these keys and asked her where she had gotten them and she said she found them on the floor at the dollar store. I explained to her that that was stealing, she felt it was ok because they were small and on the floor and not with the item they belonged with. We went back to the dollar store and I had her give the keys to an employee and apologize for having taken them. I just wonder, how many parents would have done the same thing? I want what is best for her and good values and morals are strongly important to me and I hope to instill them in my children too.

  • Katie says:

    Great post! This has happened to me in the past to, and I try to always do what’s write. A few months ago, we went grocery shopping with a whole cart full of groceries and 3 12-packs of diet coke under the cart. I completely forgot to pay for the diet coke and didn’t realize until I was at the car. It would have been very easy to just put the diet coke in the car and go on my way, but I went back inside and paid. I was with my husband and my daughter. My husband kind of gave me a look like, what are you doing? But I wanted to a. do the right thing and b. set a good example for my daughter.

    Another time I didn’t do the right thing and whenever I think about it, I feel really bad. I was buying presents for a baby shower and a pack of burpers slipped under my daughter’s infant seat (in the cart). It was an honest mistake and when I got to the car, I saw it and didn’t go back inside to pay. Just the other day, at the same store, I bought eggs and forgot to take them with me. So, I’d like to think that I’m now even 🙂 They were cheap burpers, so probably the same cost of the eggs. Karma has a funny way of coming back around…

    Great post!

  • Alicia Malouff says:

    Just today my son accidentally broke a necklace he was playing with at Children’s Place as I was purchasing our items. I had the cashier ring it up and we paid for it, but left the broken necklace behind. We did have a very frank discussion about it on the way out of the store and how we need to be responsible for our actions. (I was a bit surprised at the speed of the cashier to ring up the damaged item for me and not “damage” it out…) Either way we were ultimately responsible for it, but I wish I had looked a bit closer to see if I could have repaired it before I shelled out $5.99 for a cheaply made trinket that we didn’t even take home. I know we did the right thing, but other people might just “shush” their child and put it back on the shelf with store policies like that.

  • Rebecca says:

    Just this past week, I purchased some oatmeal that would have been free after my coupons were doubled. For some reason, the register rejected the coupons. The checkout gal looked at the coupons, looked at the product, and manually put the coupons through. When I got home, I discovered the reason why the coupons were rejected. The oatmeal had never been scanned. I went back to the grocery store, grabbed two more cannisters of oatmeal, and made sure I got in the same gal’s checkout lane. She of course remembered me as it was less than an hour later. I showed her the first receipt and explained that somehow the oatmeals had never rung up, and to please ring up four cannisters on this receipt. She was amazed, and thanked me several times for my honesty. It is sad that this kind of action is so surprising to others today. I’m glad to read all these posts and find out that there are lots of honest people out there!

  • Michelle K says:

    Good Post! Just last week I had the same thing happen. I used a competitors coupon at the store and found that instead of charging me 2.48 she only charged me .48, I thought for a moment also that it was her fault not mine. Then followed closely was the thought that when they mess up on my dollar I never let it go! And I want to be as honest as I can be when it comes to shopping. I called the store and told them and they said to just come back and I could pay the difference. I asked if I could come on my next trip and they said no problem. When I got home I found that the extra wipes I had had her remove from my order still got bagged with my groceries, so this week I will have two things to take care of! I think there aren’t enough honest people in this world and we are a testimony for the Lord where ever we go and should live accordingly!

  • Blythe says:

    A few months ago I got to my car and found that $12 worth of shirts where in the basket of my cart which had not been paid for. Like the article I had kids and was tired and in a rush to get home. However my next trip to the store I bought a $15 gift card and then destroyed it. That way they get there money as I was unable to bring up the item like she did.

  • Randi says:

    Same thing happened to me this evening after I read this post – the clerk didn’t charge me for a $1 item. I reminded her that she still needed to and thought of you. Thanks!

  • elaleh says:

    Last year at Kohl’s I noticed that the cashier forgot to scan a card that cost $0.99. I told her and she was happy I did. So she gave me 15% off my whole purchase and at the end i saved $2 and something.

  • Joy says:

    This happened to me a few months ago at Target when I bought a Cover Girl Nature Luxe gloss. Somehow it had falling behind my coupon organizer and I didn’t realize I hadn’t paid for it until I was in parking lot. So I marched right back in to Target and went to Guest Services to pay for it. The young guy just laughed when I explained what happened. I even used the coupon that I forgot I had originally.

  • Debi says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I haven’t had this happen to me, that I can recall, I’m usually the one leaving things at the store. I definitely believe that it makes all the difference to give cashiers a different taste of how couponers can be. I know that some times folks just cringe at the thought of ringing you up with all the coupons but I try to be organized and as courteous as possible. I also try to take time and look for ways to chat with cashiers, not just to butter them up and make check out easy but just in an effort to give them a different experience of a couponer.

  • Joy says:

    I have gone to the customer service desk many times to inquire about wrong charges (to me). By the same token, I go to the same desk to tell the customer rep that I was undercharged for an item. I am always greeted with surprise. I respond by saying that I want to be charged properly, and likewise want to pay properly what I owe.

  • Diana says:

    You’re my role model. There should be more people like you in this world =)

  • Sharon says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I have not been charged for items in my bag, I have generally caught them before I left the parking lot, and have gone back in to correct this with the cashier. I have always been looked at with shock, and thanked for my honesty. I purchased a bunch (like 12) bath towels and some dishes among a bunch of other things at Dillards once, and they were out of tissue to wrap the dishes in to protect them, and the lady asked if she could use my towels instead. I did not realize until that night that she forgot to scan the 3 plates before she wrapped them, so I called the manager and explained, and went back in and asked for him since he knew what happened, and he still looked at me with shock, and asked me why I brought them back in. I told him I had children whom I was responsible for teaching right and wrong, and even if it were not my mistake, and had kept them, what lesson would I be teaching my children? That it is ok to profit off of others mistakes? He thought for a second, and said I guess you are right!! One time I bought a bunch of clothes and a couple of necklaces at Kohls, and when I got home, I noticed they didn’t charge me for a necklace, I called, and took it back in, purchased it. On my way out I stopped and found some more things, purchased them, got home and you guessed it, not charged for something again, called went back, and yes picked up a few more things, (always in a hurry, and saw different things on my way out), and seriously, got home and once again not charged. I called and went back in and told them if they kept not charging me and I had to keep coming back, I was going to charge them a trip charge!!! (joking of course). I always go back in if they overcharge me, or undercharge me – fair is fair, right is right.

  • Todd says:

    Thanks for a great article and all of the great comments. Just the other day, I was at the post office sending some books off for paperback swap. I gave the postmaster a $20 and he gave me back an extra $5 in change. When I handed it back to him, he seemed so surprised. I really think its almost sad at how shocked people are when someone treats them honestly.

  • Michelle Stanley says:

    I have had the same issue come up many times and sometimes if the error equals out like the cashier didn’t ring up the items but then I didn’t get the register reward because of it-I will let it go.

    Other times, like last night at Sears, I tell the cashier something rung up at $.00.

    I want to be honest to honor the Lord but am not perfect and several of these things are coming to mind now that I will ask forgiveness for and go on mindful of this article and the need for extreme honesty.

    Thanks for writing this 🙂

  • Roxanne says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that we should always be honest. Stealing from a store is *not* the same thing as frugal!

    However, I can only think of maybe twice in my life I’ve been undercharged. But I can think of a few dozen of times I’ve been overcharged at grocery stores. Grocery stores are busy and the cashiers work very efficiently (super fast) so as soon as I start putting groceries on the belt they start scanning them. It’s impossible to watch the screen and put groceries on the belt fast enough.

    We’ve had so many costly mistakes my husband insists we use the U-Scan so we can make sure things only get scanned once and each bag ends up in our cart. Annoying, but after three trips in a row of about $7 in overcharges we had to do something!

  • lizajane says:

    I had to remind a cashier at Walmart once to scan my two huge bags of dog food!!! They weren’t even under the cart or anything, right there in plain sight. That would have been $50 right there in my favor. I sincerely hope the young man no longer works there, as he was just not paying attention to his job and I’m sure it wasn’t just MY “lucky day”. There were probably a lot of times that he missed stuff.

  • Andrea says:

    Here’s my story:
    I was buying two big jugs of laundry detergent at the grocery store. I asked for them to be rung up separately so they’d come out of the household budget rather than the food budget. The bagger was being very efficient and loaded them into the “finished” cart without the cashier ringing them up. I was tempted not to correct the error…. we REALLY could use the extra $20, and I could keep my really good Tide coupons :). And my kids were NOT with me, so I didn’t have to worry about being a good example. Literally, NO ONE would know.

    I did the right thing, and told the cashier I hadn’t paid for them. I did not hear the angels singing as I left the store, but I thanked God He helped me resist temptation.

  • melissa says:

    Our family ate at an independently owned restaurant once when the electricity went out mid-meal. It was still fairly light outside and the place had plenty of windows and candles, so it was all fine. However, when it came time to pay and we gave the waitress our card, she apparently forgot to write down the expiration date of the card. She was supposed to write everything down, since there was no electricity to run the cards the normal way. About 3 weeks later, we realized that we were never charged for the meal. My husband and I decided that the next time we ate there, we would let them know. It was only a few weeks later that we went back. We ordered the exact same meal, then called over the owner to tell him about the previous error and to please charge us twice for our meal. He was so impressed with our honesty that he gave us a voucher for a free bottle of wine or $25 gift card – our choice. Sometimes, it pays in more ways than one to be honest!

  • Emi says:

    Just last week, I was at a local thrift store and pointed out that I was being undercharged by 50 cents. It completely confused the cashier as she did not know how to re-ring it and then while I was waiting for her to fix it, the phone rang and it was a personal call for her and she gabbed for about 20 minutes. When I got home, I found that there were holes in the shirt that I bought and ended up throwing it away anyway. Sometimes, it does not pay to be honest.

  • Genieve says:

    Thanks for the article. I have a funny story about this subject.
    I remember leaving a grocery store once realizing that I had a big package of toilet paper on the bottom of the grocery cart that I didn’t remember getting the cashier to scan. So as my husband was packing the car with the rest of the groceries, I ran inside to get the toilet paper scanned and paid for. I felt like I had done the right and honest thing. Then we got home and I looked at our receipt: we HAD already paid for the toilet paper. So we paid for it TWICE! lol.
    Next time I went in, I got the issue fixed by bringing in the receipts and getting $ back. But now I’ve learned to double check my receipt before running in to pay for a “mistake”.

  • Amanda says:

    I bought several items at Kohls one time and the cashier missed scanning a pair of pajama pants I picked up for my husband. I didn’t notice it until I got home, but had them charge me for the pants the next time I was there. At the time I was working at Kohls for awhile after college and not only did I think it was important to be an honest shopper but, I was also being an honest employee. I always check my shopping receipts though as items don’t always come up at the correct price.

  • I had this situation occur just this week. I’d had a medical procedure done that morning, and I’m pregnant, and it’s freaky hot out, so I was woozy and not feeling well. I didn’t pay a lick of attention to what the cashier was ringing up at the grocery store, but when my total was only $22, I knew that couldn’t be right, as I’d bought a lot of meat and some expensive produce.

    I looked at my receipt as I walked to the car and realized that he hadn’t charged me for any of the meat. We’re talking $20 here! I felt like crap, but I went back inside to pay for my meat. The cashier was so surprised that I was honest about it! Yes, it was the store’s mistake, but I’m not a thief, and that’s exactly what I would feel like if I didn’t pay for it. And how can I teach my youth group at church to act with integrity if I’m not doing it myself?

  • Mariah says:

    Great post…really really enjoyed it!

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