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Always Check Your Receipts


In my continual battle to lower our grocery bill, I’ve been making lots of lists:  lists of meal ideas, lists of sale foods, and standard grocery lists. I’ve set ourselves a strict budget and have been following it to a “T.”

I estimate food costs in advance (it’s written directly on our grocery list). Then when I go grocery shopping I make little tally marks so I can keep a running total of what our bill will be (to ensure we don’t go over the limit I’ve set).

Even with all this preparation, you have to have a watchful eye on how items are scanning!  We used to be a Velveeta Shells & Cheese family, but at $2.50/box, we’ve decided the cheaper Kraft variety (usually $1.29/box) is just as good. This week, all the macaroni and cheese was on sale for only $1 per box. I decided to stock up, getting 5 boxes in total. But when scanning my receipt after checking out, I realized that somehow only one box rang up for the correct price. No idea why/how it happened. But I was overcharged 29 cents per box.

The old me would likely have let it go. Not worth the hassle of going to customer service over about a buck and some change.

But the new me is focused. Determined. We’re counting every single cent over here. Even the pennies matter.

So I walked right on over to customer service (I hadn’t noticed until after I’d already paid and the transaction at the register was complete). It didn’t take more than 2 minutes for me to get a whopping $1.16 handed back in cold hard cash. I stuffed the dollar in my cash envelope (oh yeah, totally doing the cash envelope thing again! More on that to come.), and the change went into my wallet. Virtual high five to me for catching the mistake and following through with seeking the reimbursement I was owed.

So let this be a reminder to always be watchful of your purchases and how they’re ringing up! If you’re expecting to buy something on sale and it doesn’t ring up correctly, don’t be afraid to ask for a price check or to return to customer service for a reimbursement if needed. It wasn’t nearly as much of a “hassle” as I’d assumed it would be. No hassle at all, really!

If you notice an overcharge, do you go back for the refund? Have you ever just walked away (< I know I have before!!!)


  • Reply Gayla |

    When we were newlyweds (almost 30 years ago) and in our first jobs out of college, we lived in a military town. I had many girlfriends whose young husbands were serving the military. I heard many of them say “watch your pennies and your dollars will follow”. That phrase still plays in my mind when I run into situations like you described. Good job, Ashley. Little victories will add up.

  • Reply Lisa |

    In Michigan, you would get your change back, plus the Michigan Scan Law. 10 times the amount you were over charged upto 5.00…only one like item qualifies for that law though. Do you have that in Arizona?

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow, I’ve never heard of that! I don’t think we have it in Arizona, but I think it’s a fabulous idea!

  • Reply Stephanie |

    I am right there with you. Why should the grocery store profit from their mistake? Sales items are loss leaders general. I know I spend a lot of money in a store so the grocery store is still making a profit off of me. I know that grocery store profit margins are thin, but that $1.16 is what you worked hard for. I review our receipts too. My favorite store – Publix – will refund you the correct amount and give you the first item for free when there is a mistake. Smart thinking!

    So glad you are back to blogging. I love reading your perspective on things.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks! I loved Publix when we lived in Florida! We don’t have them in my area now – I miss their deli sandwiches! 🙂

  • Reply Andrea |

    If I notice when I’m in the store I’ll usually do something about it. If I don’t notice until I get home then I won’t bother unless it’s a significant amount of money. My time is worth something to, so I try to balance the two items.

    Another way to trim you grocery bills is to use ibotta. It’s an app that gives you rebates on certain items when you scan your receipt. Some weeks there’s nothing I want to buy that has a rebate, but other weeks I can get $2-3 back just for buying stuff I was already going to buy. It’s not much, but every little bit helps.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I used to have the ibotta app, but it’s been awhile since I’ve used it (i even must’ve deleted it from my phone because i don’t have the app anymore). Thanks for the reminder, though! I should definitely re-download and use!

  • Reply Walnut |

    The same thing happened to me only with ground beef. The non-sale price was more than double the original, so it caught my eye big time while the cashier was ringing it up. The manager who came over to handle the price adjustment was so weird about it too. She was looking at me accusingly and stated, “This has been ringing up fine all day.”

    I stammered that something must have glitched and she continued to carefully examine my ground beef and check the ad again to ensure it qualified for the reduced rate. I pressed her to either enter the price adjustment or she could walk the extra five packages back to the meat counter herself, because I wasn’t stocking up if it wasn’t on sale. The adjustment ended up being nearly $20!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow, that’s huge!!! That’s too bad hearing about the poor customer service, though! Sounds like they thought you were trying to scam them somehow – using the wrong product or something? I don’t like that they were being kind of accusatory about the process when it was their system’s fault!

  • Reply Katie |

    Yes, I would have gone to customer service too. For me, it’s the principle. I quit shopping at Safeway, because I noticed the sale price wouldn’t ring up far too often. Like every single time I shopped there. I started to feel like it was deliberate. Some chains will give you the item for free if it rings up wrong. Good for you for keeping an eye out. You will need that $1.16 for something else – the tooth fairy, a couple of packs of crayons for school, a parking meter, whatever. It makes a difference.

  • Reply Jessica |

    Check the laws in your county. Where I live, they give a ‘super refund’ – 10x the difference you’re overcharged. The state does this to cut down on errors at the checkout and ‘punish’ the stores for overcharging customers.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Are you in Michigan? Someone else commented the same thing! I’ve never heard of that before and I don’t think it applies in my area but I’ll look into it just to be sure!

      • Reply Jessica |

        New York! Looks like it’s in lots of states! They won’t give it to you unless you specifically ask for it

  • Reply ginsue |

    i am usually very good about watching to make sure prices are coming up properly. on august 24 this year i went to sam’s club and it was the second day of their latest instant savings campaign. if your not familiar you get a booklet with all the products with instant savings that are deducted from your receipt sort of like coupons but without the hassle of paper coupons. i bought lots of things that had the savings including 5 cases of ensure for an elderly neighbor. there was $6 instant savings per case. i never looked at the receipt until the next day when my husband gave it to me along with the money from the neighbor’s cashed check. none of the instant savings had been deducted and i was very angry. we had to make a special trip back to the city to get this straightened out and in the end they owed us a $48.00 refund. since then i have complained loudly to everyone who will listen and they have coughed up an additional $40 in gift cards to make me go away. oh and by the way if you didn’t catch their mistake on those days there was a glitch in the system they will not be telling you about it.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow, that’s a serious overcharging error!
      While in graduate school I worked very briefly for a clothing retailer (I won’t say the name) that was notorious for putting up sales, but not updating the scanners to ring up appropriately. I remember feeling so much inner angst and turmoil when I was forced to hang big “SALES” signs on clothing that I knew wouldn’t ring up appropriately at the register. That’s part of the reason I ended up leaving that job. I think some businesses just have honest mistakes (and/or system glitches), but some may do it intentionally as a predatory thing – they’re just banking on the fact that many won’t notice the overcharge!

  • Reply Emily N. |

    Yes! Definitely check receipts. I’ve had numerous times when something has rung up incorrectly. A couple times I’ve also had the cashier accidentally scan a card from a different store, which rang up in their system as a $50 piece of meat!

  • Reply Lisa |

    That looks like a Kroger-family-of-stores receipt. If the price scanned is not correct, you’re supposed to get the item(s) free. I’ve been fully reimbursed before. At Aldi last week, generic ice cream was clearanced to .99 but rang 1.99. When I called it to the cashier’s attention, she rolled eyes and silently punched in the correct price. Wow, really?

    • Reply Ashley |

      You’re right – it was Frys (a Kroger-brand store). I’ve never heard of that policy and they certainly didn’t offer, but good to know for the future. I’ll definitely ask bout it!
      Can’t believe the rude cashier! Are you kidding me???

  • Reply Practical Parsimony |

    When I price-matched at Walmart, the cashier rang up the WM price AND the price match. I paid $3.48 regular price and the $2.99 sale price for Miracle Whip. The next day when I went in for a prescription, I got back over $12. Then, the next day I had to take back another mistake, getting back about $5, I think. If it is even a penny, I get it back. After all, it is my penny and WM or any other store has more money than I do.

    Yes, I get my money back.

  • Reply Chantal |

    I watch cash registers like poisonous snakes now, ever since I did a year of this and found that the mistakes are ALWAYS in the stores’ favor. This is so illogical isn’t it?

  • Reply mary m |

    If it’s more than $3-4 and I’m not in a rush, I’ll go back in. At target a few weeks ago we went back in from the parking lot because I forgot to scan the cartwheel app. It was $22 or 23. They were very nice and returned the items then rerung them. My 14 yr old was protesting at first (we were kind of in a hurry, but I knew it was a significant amount) until she saw the cash they gave me back. It’s worth your time to get it fixed!

So, what do you think ?