Arguing price errors

April 04, 2011|By Liz F. Kay

How often do you complain when a product rings up at a price that was different than you expected?

According to this video from the Today Show, which I found via Consumerworld.org, not very often.

Their hidden cameras found that only a few of 10 customers noticed that they were charged more for their supposedly marked down t-shirts, and many of those who did didn't question the difference in price.

I have to say that there's a lot of pressure not to quibble, especially in places like the grocery store, when there's often a line of customers behind you.

The self-checkout offers one advantage, though: it makes you pay attention to each transaction, so you'll be more likely to spot a discrepancy between what the register states and what you remember from the aisle. But there's a caveat --- it may take more effort to get the store employee overseeing the self-checkout aisles to come rectify the problem.

That wasn't an issue for me this weekend, when my buy-one-get-one-free loaves of bread didn't ring up that way at the self-checkout. (Each was discounted, but it didn't add up to the total value of one.) The cashier discounted my order by the difference in price, but it helped that there was plenty of evidence to support my claim, such as the neon 'buy one get one free' stickers on each loaf.

Of course, sometimes the pricing error can be in your favor.

I was once wondering about the price of a set of baking dishes at a department store many years ago and ran it through the price check scanner for customers. It rang up at some outrageously low price --- it could have been $2; it might have been under a dollar. 

So, I brought it to the cash register and told them what I had found. The saleswoman called a manager, who said --- reluctantly --- that they had to honor the price that was in the system. So I took home those pans and still have them today. A customer behind me saw what was happening and went through the entire display, trying to find a similar happy accident.

But the potential for typos and inconsistencies is high, given the amount of merchandise in any store. How often have you caught a pricing error --- and when you do, how do you respond?

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