What’s Your “Turn Back” Time?

[Welcome to another glorious day of life! We’re still at the beach here (thus why it’s so glorious ;)), but before we left my wife asked if she could borrow some space here to pose a juicy situation to y’all. And seeing how I’m not in the business of saying no to my wife (Husbandly 101, right there), you will now be hearing from her… Take it away, Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy!]

Tell me if you’ve experienced something like this before:

You’ve just finished up a long shopping trip and are wearily loading up your car with bags. Out of nowhere, something at the bottom of the cart catches your eye. As you bend over to inspect it, you realize it’s one of the items you had just (presumably) purchased! But it’s not in a bag with the rest of your things — it’s all alone, suspiciously isolated.

Did it fall out? Did it not like its other friends and needed a break from them? Did it not make its way past the store scanner? 

You pull out the receipt to check.

Sure enough, the item isn’t on the receipt. It was a stowaway. Your heart sinks a little bit… Those lines in the store were long, and the line at Guest Services was even longer. To go back and pay for the missed item would inevitably mean a LOT of effort, time and patience. And whose fault was it anyway? Maybe the checker dropped it in the cart? Why didn’t s/he catch the mistake?!

You mull this over for a while, but eventually decide to….

A) Go back in. It’s the right thing to do, no matter what.
B) Leave. What’s done is done, and hey — free stuff!
C) Leave, but plan to come back later at a less-busy time
D) Leave, but also leave the item in the cart. Maybe an employee would pick it back up there?

Believe it or not, I’ve actually done ALL of the above options at one time or another. (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit to the time I chose option D, hoping that Wegmans cart collector would find and return the baby food I accidentally walked out of the store with).

For me, the circumstances surrounding this scenario are key in determining which course of action I take. Am I alone, or with my kids? How far away am I when I’ve realized the mistake? Am I still in the store, out in the parking lot, or already home? What’s the cost of this rogue item?

My general rule with kids is that once we are out to the lot (and especially if they are already strapped into car seats), I don’t turn back. If it’s a big item that was missed, I’ll plan to return at a later time to pay, but small items simply aren’t worth the effort to take two cranky, hungry toddlers back into the store.

If I’m alone, my rules are more flexible — I’ll usually go back regardless of the cost of the item so long as I’m still in the parking lot. Once I’m home, though? The cost would have to be pretty significant for me to make a return trip — usually anything $10 and more.

A friend of mine uses the “cashier’s fault” rationale for all missed items — even if she notices the mistake at the register! Another friend employs the “parking lot rule” at all times. Once she’s out of the store, it’s the point of no return (literally).

Personally, I like to weigh each circumstance separately and try to act accordingly — bearing in mind that the right thing to do, regardless of whose mistake it was, is to pay for things you get from a store. But of course, we all weigh decisions differently. ESPECIALLY with our time and money.

How about you? Are you more of an A, B, C, or D person?  What’s your “turn back” time?

Just like my adorable husband, I promise I won’t judge you so long as you don’t judge me either :)

[Adorable husband here! I’m typically an A or C person, though usually with C I’ll end up forgetting half the time and accidentally turn into a B person… I will say though that besides the price, it almost always hinges on my mood at the time. If I’m super happy or relaxed (and especially alone), I’ll go back in no matter what. If I’m having an overall rough day I’ll typically opt for C without even thinking about it. But I do love the idea of D and leaving it in the cart like that! I would have never thought about that and it’s actually pretty genius, haha… It’s like the best of both worlds – goes back to its home AND you don’t have to hassle with it! Now what about returning stuff you’ve already used? ;)]

Photo cred: DaMongMan

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  1. The Green Swan July 13, 2016 at 5:24 AM

    Gosh I don’t think I’ve ever had this happen before so it’s an interesting question. I’d probably weigh all the circumstances like you do. If it wss expensive I’d lean toward A or C if I was in a rush.

    1. Fiscally Free July 20, 2016 at 2:22 PM

      I’m with you. This has never really happened to me, yet it sounds like it happens all the time at the BudgetsAreSexy household. I’m not sure what kind of stores this keeps happening at, but it seems like the customer or the cashiers need to be more attentive.

      The one similar experience I’ve had actually just happened. We bought twelve cans of sardines at Trader Joes, which are about $1.50 each, but when we got to the car we realized we were charged for twelve bananas instead, which are $0.19 each. This was clearly the cashier’s fault, so I drove home guilt-free.

  2. Chris @ Flipping a Dollar July 13, 2016 at 5:49 AM

    This sort of happened to us. We grabbed a cart at Sam’s Club and there was a pair of kitchen scissors. Heavy duty ones! We kept the crap out of them. They were literally on our list to buy at the store! They’re fantastic and I don’t mind it. Sucks for the person who bought it and lost it, but we did wait a few minutes by the cart before going into the store.

    I also think it depends on big box vs. local store. I wouldn’t feel as guilty if it was a huge store but if it was a mom and pop place, that would be completely different.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:31 AM

      What are the odds that you were actually on a HUNT for them???? It’s like it was a gift from heaven, haha….Though I’m sure the Big Man in charge there might have wanted to see something else happen :)

  3. whiskey July 13, 2016 at 6:29 AM

    Once out the door, its fair game. But that also goes for, if I paid for something that I didn’t get. Usually this is noticed once Im home, unbagging etc. Its never been more than a few bucks, usually less than the cost of gas to go back…
    Its a rare occurrence but it does/has happened

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:33 AM

      Yeah, I rarely go back for things that I paid for and were missing too, unless it was something pretty expensive and/or I needed right away. Or if it was from a store I frequent often I’ll just hit up customer service the next time I’m in there *if* I remember.

  4. Thias @It Pays Dividends July 13, 2016 at 6:56 AM

    I can’t remember a time when I made it out to the parking lot before realizing. I normally bring it up to the cashier as I notice it. If I make it to the parking lot, I probably would just keep going – mainly because I’m not sure if I would actually realize it or take the time to check the receipt if I saw the extra item in the cart. I chalk this one up to laziness :)

  5. Roy Largo @ Band of Savers July 13, 2016 at 6:59 AM

    I can’t remember ever having had this happen to me before but agree that it would all depend on the circumstances. The closest that I’ve come to this is when I look at the receipt and notice that something rang up differently than the price it was labeled – which happens both ways. My rule of thumb is this: if the cashier made a mistake and over charged my this much, would I go back and complain about it? If I’m already home and noticed that I was charged full price for a sale item and thus spent $2 more I would count my losses because it would cost me time and gas to go back and fight it out in a hope that they actually recognize their error and give me the $2 back – so in the same situation I wouldn’t turn around to return an item that I was undercharged by $2 for.

    Not sure that I would ever opt for option D because I would figure that by leaving it in the cart it would either get claimed by someone else who would then get a free (and guilt-free) item, or it will get thrown away if it is a food product. Either way I doubt that the store will ever see it again.

  6. Elliot @ Our Growing Wealth July 13, 2016 at 7:13 AM

    If I notice the mistake while in the store, I’ll definitely go back and pay, so type A. At the end of the day I’d like to think I’m decent, honest person and in that situation it’s the right thing to do, regardless of the cost. However, like you said, once out in the car park, it’s the thing of going back in and then explaining the situation etc. So probably then a B. Mistakes happen and it’s not like I was looking for a freebie! Maybe if anyone starts to feel guilty, donate the cost of the item to charity? Then you have paid for it in a way and someone else benefits!

    Hope you’re enjoying the beach!

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:35 AM

      That’s a good idea with the charity route :)

  7. Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions July 13, 2016 at 7:24 AM

    Wow – you mentioned Wegmans! I live in Danny’s hometown (even taught his kids)… and our Wegman’s have little scanner things that tell the cashier if there is something in the bottom of the cart. No A-D for me at Wegmans. Now at other stores – it definitely depends on the situation. Usually A but it depends on what the item costs.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:36 AM

      Wow, really?? I bet they save so much money catching that stuff – great idea!

      (Had to look up “danny” and “wegmans” to see what the heck you were talking about, and realized it was actually his name! Danny Wegmans! Haha… Never knew that before – pretty cool you’re connected to his family :))

  8. Apathy Ends July 13, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    I have been on both sides of this, not paying for something the cashier missed and paying for something we didn’t end up with (not put in the bag or wrong weight on produce).

    If I noticed it and had time I would probably go back in and pay. If I waited in line for 10 minutes I would load up the car and probably say “I’m sure it will even out”

    kknd of weird, but if it was a small town grocery store or small local chain I would bring it back in more often than not – I don’t feel as bad getting a free bee from giant chains

  9. ZJ Thorne July 13, 2016 at 7:51 AM

    This has not happened to me, but I don’t have children and am able to pay close attention to my cart and what the cashier is doing. I have stopped a cashier when they deliberately undercharged me. I’m not okay with taking discounts it was not in the cashier’s authority to provide.

    That said, I know that bigger retailers plan for loss in this manner. I wouldn’t intentionally do it to them, but I am not worried for their result on their bottom line.

  10. Pengepugeren July 13, 2016 at 7:59 AM

    I don’t think I ever have left the store with something that I forgot to put on the conveyor: Once I did forget, but noticed it in the cart just before I had to pay. I told the cashier and she scanned it with no change in expression.

    Have to admit, I was kind of hoping for a slight sign of appreciation for me not stealing. I’m a petty person like that :)

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:40 AM

      Sounds like she’s just bored of her job more than anything. I bet most of them could care less and just waiting for that paycheck. I’ll salute you for a job well done though :) Feel better now?

  11. Rose July 13, 2016 at 8:15 AM

    Let me put it this way, I used to be a mystery shopper and that was one of the things that I caught a lot more often than you would think. Particularly items on the bottom of the cart or obscured by your purse or baby gear.
    I know that this is already part of the stores calculated loss – as in – figured in and planned for, loss by the store.
    There is actually an easy fix for every store to avoid this (scanners and even attentive baggers don’t catch everything either) – do like Aldi does, when you get to the cashier, they take your empty cart and give you a different one – voila. That system only leaves intentional theft or pure happenstance, but to a much, much lesser degree.

    Once, I shopped at Target for a small outdoor table, even got someone to help me get it in the car, only to find the next day, that it was not even on my receipt. What would you have done?
    My answer is generally B. I’m not going back in, because someone gave me an extra pineapple and I’m not going back if they gave my bag of apples that I did indeed pay for, to someone else – but there are exceptions, when I do.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:44 AM

      Good idea w/ Aldi’s! Kinda like Costco actually, only in your same cart at the end.

      If the table was expensive I would have gone back later when it was convenient (like the next time I was there), but if it wasn’t I’d probably just forget it if I’m being honest. I feel like a bad person sometimes but over the years I am getting better about it :)

  12. Lindy July 13, 2016 at 9:00 AM

    We actually managed to make it to the parking lot with a free watermelon from Sam’s club where they check your receipt as you walk out the door!?!?!?! However, my adorable husband went back in and paid for it. We figured the good karma couldn’t hurt anything. However, if I were alone and with the cranky toddler, ooh boy…I’m not sure I could be such a good citizen. Maybe that is why I try so hard to do the right thing when it is easy? Hoping for the good karma later when it is hard?? However, I am 99% an A person.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:46 AM

      Haha… I’d imagine it’s def. better than never going back in either times! :) I kinda like that rule… Reminds me of my rule on donating where anytime I’m asked I have to say “yes” since I suck at going out of my way to do it. I’ll slip here and there when I forget, but by and large I always donate something which makes me feel better about sucking so bad.

  13. Paul July 13, 2016 at 9:06 AM

    Happens to me all the time. I believe its a test. If I discovered it in the parking lot I would leave the item in the cart and put cart back. I do not believe its my responsibility to do anything beyond that as my time should be valued, I do not take it home but I do not make an effort to go back in to the store either (unless I absolutely needed it). I firmly believe the employee is equally at fault for the miss so that is why I do not make a special effort, I just leave the item.

    However, if the item was bagged and I did not discover it till I was home I would absolutely keep it. The reason being is that I was not at fault in any way and did not know I was taking something I didn’t pay for. I live about 20 miles away from any store of consequence and thusly, to return an item would cost me in time and gas. Therefore, I do not feel bad in the slightest at that point. I’m not going to come out of pocket to correct a store employees error. I am also not going to hold onto an item for what could be months till I go back to that store.

    Trust your gut, if it feels like stealing then it definitely is.

  14. Lisa O July 13, 2016 at 9:21 AM

    Well I have to say that I am an “B”! It has happened a few times in the past few years from $3.50- $12 at Wal-Mart to $89 at Sam’s club. I think I justify it by saying that I shop there and support the store and even the occasional overcharge on their part.

    I laughed at this because my Wal-Mart stuff was loose out of my bag as well and I had to look at the receipt to see if I paid for it when I got home because I was certain that I emptied my cart too!

  15. Aaron @IncomeHoncho July 13, 2016 at 9:28 AM

    I would say it depends on how expensive the item is. I would turn back if it’s very expensive, otherwise my conscience will kill me. It it’s just like 5 dollar, just go and don’t waste your time hehe

  16. Corey July 13, 2016 at 9:33 AM

    Definitely option B. If you spend $100+ regularly at the grocery store and a small item isn’t paid for it’s not a big deal in my opinion.

    On the other hand, if I get cash back and the cashier accidentally gave me extra money and I don’t notice until I even get home I would drive back and return it. I don’t want the cashier to have the wrong amount on their register.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:48 AM

      I’m usually better with cash too – even if it’s smaller amounts. I feel like it’s more “real” and people would get into trouble more?

  17. EL July 13, 2016 at 9:35 AM

    What a controversial topic, don’t let the execs at Wal-Mart find this post. They installed cameras at the registers to try to avoid this game, that was big money for employees hooking up friends and family members in the past. WE are all either A or B, as C and D with busy families and long lines, Ha Good Luck.

  18. Lisa July 13, 2016 at 9:44 AM

    I would choose A – take it back into the store. I would not want to run the risk of a store camera catching me leaving with an unpaid article. At most stores I shop, there’s a message at the check out to remind you to check your cart. I have left many times with purchased items NOT placed in my bag t of and in one case, I walked out of a CVS with a greeting card tucked under my arm and forgot to pay. Upon realizing it, I hurried back into the store with a long explanation. The manager didn’t have a problem. I always try to do the right thing –

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:51 AM

      That’s interesting… If I was holding something in my hands I’d totally go back 100% no matter what if i realized I didn’t pay for it. But if it were in the cart and an accident, the %goes way down. I guess cuz the first route feels more like stealing and the fear of “getting caught” would be too severe vs “an accident” with it in the cart? So fascinating how our actions can differ with slightly varying situations :)

  19. Sabrina July 13, 2016 at 9:47 AM

    I’m right there with you- this has happened to me and it depends. Ultimately I do whatever brings me the most inner peace- which might be either getting cranky kids in the car and getting on my way or easing my conscience by returning the item (price would definitely matter).

  20. Brian Lund July 13, 2016 at 9:48 AM

    Dang! I hate when this happens! I usually do A but have been known to do C. My wife always does A, unless she’s already home when she realizes. But sometimes she calls to let them know!

  21. Laura July 13, 2016 at 9:53 AM

    This happened to us at Home Depot with a large, bulky fan. We went back in and paid for it. When it happened at Walmart with a twelve pack of cheap diet soda, we didn’t bother going back then, but kept the receipt and told the checker the next time we were there. She told us to forget about it! It happened at Marshall’s when a $23 item had an accessory on it with a $5 tag and the cashier didn’t notice (nor did we) that the $5 price was for the small item attached to the $23 item. We noticed when we got home. We went back with the small item and both tags and they corrected the error. So I guess it depends on the price of the item and how crowded the store is, but in general I don’t trust the potential bad financial karma and always try to make it right.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:52 AM

      Definitely can’t go wrong doing that :)

  22. BeSmartRich July 13, 2016 at 10:12 AM

    I would be B. There were some occasions that one or few items weren’t checked in however I found more often that some of the discounted items weren’t discounted after checking my receipts.

  23. Mary Ann July 13, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    It happens, ha. One time I came home from the store and noticed they forgot to give me my cat food purchase on the receipt. So a day later, I went back with my receipt and told them the story about how the bag of cat food never made it to my car and they politely gave me another bag. Well, lo and behold if not a week or so later I find the original cat food bag in the cupboard. Apparently my husband had come through the kitchen while I was putting away groceries and had tucked it away without me noticing (not where I would put it). Well, I decided I had already put too much effort into this whole cat food thing and just chocked it up to experience, and kept the extra cat food. Guilty as charged!

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:53 AM

      Haha… husbands are sneaky like that.

  24. Amanda @centsiblyrich July 13, 2016 at 10:30 AM

    I would typically be an “A” as long as I wasn’t super rushed. I can only remember this happening to me once, a LONG time ago – I was already home and had “extra” groceries not on my receipt, which is when I planned to go with “C” but ended up doing a “D” because I never took the time to go back to the store.

    I do know of someone who accidentally walked out of the store forgetting to pay for her groceries (she stopped at Redbox and then headed for the car without remembering to go to the cashier – she had a small number of items in a reusable shopping bag) and she was arrested for theft. Eventually the charges were dropped, but it was a stressful, costly situation for a while.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:55 AM

      OUCH!!! That’s my biggest fear in the world – going to jail for something I didn’t do and/or was an accident. I’m glad she came out of it okay! That would be a hard thing to prove one way or the other :( Though I feel like you can tell when someone is deliberately trying to steal something 75% of the time – esp if there are cameras around!

  25. Brian @ debt discipline July 13, 2016 at 11:00 AM

    I can’t remember the last time it happen to me. I think it would depended on the situation. If I was already home and noticed it I don’t think I would be going back. What about at a fast food place or restaurant? Extra burger in the bag? Do you keep it? or a missed item on your bill?

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 9:59 AM

      Good one!

      For food I almost ALWAYS keep no matter what it is or price – isn’t that strange? Such a different mentality than an item from a store even though it’s practically the same thing??

      Once I remember getting two free apple pies in my drive through order at a McDonalds. I brought it up to them and they said “it’s on the house” and gave me a wink, haha… Nooo idea if they were allowed to do that or not (probably not) but it did make me feel good :)

  26. Joe July 13, 2016 at 11:07 AM

    It depends on the item. If it’s a bar of soap, it’s not a big deal. Grocery store has a built in budget for this anyway. I’d go back to pay for it if it is an expensive item.

  27. Shawna July 13, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    I’m an A or B, depending on the circumstance. One time in college, I went to Target, bought some stuff, and went home. Once I was home, I realized they didn’t charge me for a $15 hair product. I felt guilty but my only mode of transportation was bus so it would take over an hour to get back. Instead, I donated $25 to a local food bank. Seemed like a decent compromise to me!

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:00 AM

      Love that so much :)

  28. jenlarson79 July 13, 2016 at 11:24 AM

    I definitely point it out, or have it corrected if I’m in the store. Once I’m out to my car, it’s a waste of my time to go back in and have something corrected. (although, I’ve never noticed anything that I’ve left in the cart myself…that might be different)
    Also – I think “Husbandry” is not what you think it is, J ;) You’re looking for husbandly.
    (don’t feel bad – I had to look it up to be sure! haha!)

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:01 AM

      Hey now, you don’t think I was talking about the care, cultivation, and breeding of crops and animals? ;)

  29. Kate @ itsakatelife July 13, 2016 at 1:37 PM

    If put an item on the conveyor belt and the cashier has full visibility to it, then it’s no longer my responsibility to ensure that it was scanned and I was charged the correct amount. However, if it’s something that I left in the cart and didn’t tell the cashier about, I’d consider it stealing if I took it home. It would be entirely my fault for not paying for it.

    I do most of my shopping at one store near my house and there have been times where I’ve been slightly over/under charged. In my mind, it all evens out given how frequently I shop there. Not worth having customer service do adjustments over small variances.

  30. Paul July 13, 2016 at 1:39 PM

    Funny but a week or so ago, I found a small bag of items at the self paying machine that was left by a lady of a certain age who was right before me. After paying for my goods, I rushed out to find her loading up the car. I approached her with her groceries and, looking like she was about to hit me with her bag, screamed “what do YOU want” I gently mentioned that she left this in the bagging area and handed it to her. She grabbed it without even the gesture of a “Thank you”.

    Perhaps it was because I didn’t shave that day? Anyway, I’m hoping for some positive karma in return.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:05 AM

      Hahaha…. I get that look all the time with my mohawk!

      Good for you for doing a good deed though – if more people were like you out there they wouldn’t be so shut down when a stranger approached them!

  31. Math Guy July 13, 2016 at 2:05 PM

    I would definitely go back and pay,it’s the right thing to do, unless……

    I am at a store that all but strip search you on the way out. Then hey, “free stuff”.

    The cost/effort more then the item (noticing I didn’t pay for the 59 cent drink an hour down the road). Then mail a check or catch then next time.


  32. Beth July 13, 2016 at 2:18 PM

    Gosh! Unfortunately this has never happened to me. LOL But if I was with my kids and they noticed too I would most likely go back and pay for it so that my kids can take something away from that – hopefully.
    But for me – alone- it would depend on the price, the line in the store or how in a hurry I am. I could be A, B, C or D as well.
    My dad on the other hand is the type to find a $5 bill in the middle of no where and turn it in to the local police station. Seriously!

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:09 AM

      Haha…. your dad is a true gentleman :)

      Good point on the “lesson” for the kids! Ours are starting to get to that age where they’d understand it all more so def. going to weave it into a future occurrence – which I’m sure will be any day now as I swear it really happens to us at least once a month!

  33. Rose July 13, 2016 at 3:31 PM

    None of the above – I refuse to check the receipt to see if it’s on there; I just choose to believe that I paid to it. Of course if I catch a mistake at the register, I will tell the clerk. I would never purposefully steal, but once I’m done checking out everything that walks out with me is mine. I follow this rule 100% of the time.

  34. Yetisaurus July 13, 2016 at 6:55 PM

    I have to say that I’m typically a B person, although it would depend on the value of the item, and maybe even on the store it came from. At Costco, they very rarely overcharge me for things, so I’d be way more likely to take an item in and pay for it there. At Home Depot, though? Way more likely to just keep the item and chalk it up to evening things out. I can’t count how many times I’ve bought things at Home Depot that were missing some key component of the package. In fact, a month ago, it was literally keys that were missing. I bought a lockset and it didn’t have the keys in the package, so it was totally useless. I haven’t taken it back yet, and will probably forget by the time the return window is up.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:10 AM

      Ack! Those are pretty important, haha….

      Don’t you still need them? Stuff like that I always go back for since you 9 times out of 10 need to use them right away…

  35. Stockbeard July 13, 2016 at 7:43 PM

    I’m definitely a “B”: I would go and not look back, but this is for one simple reason: I would probably also go and not look back if the mistake was the other way around (paying for something I didn’t buy) unless we’re talking crazy amounts. I just can’t bother (my wife does, however, and she’s found that on average Safeway overcharges us 5% through random mistakes, she always tries to get those fixed). So overall I believe it evens out. Then again, I rarely put stuff in my cart worth more than $10.

    Exception: once the cashier entered the wrong product number and I got charged $50 for something that was supposed to cost $2. That one I had to get fixed.

  36. Miss Mazuma July 13, 2016 at 8:21 PM

    Like Mrs.Budgets, I have done it all – A through D.

    In fact, on a recent ikea trip my friend and I shared a cart. I had a back pack in the cart and when we went to check out the lady asked if it was mine. I said yes. Only after we checked out and left did I realize she was asking if it was mine as in did I own it. The answer to that question was no. It was mine in the way that I wished to purchase it, not my friend. Anywho, I felt bad but going back to Ikea was out of the question…they put those things in the middle of nowhere!! Instead, since I couldn’t handle the bad karma implications, I decided to gift it to my boyfriend. I told him it was hot merch but he didn’t seem to mind since he hadn’t taken it himself…I guess we all have some gray matter in our moral compasses!

    My question to you all is – what if it was money instead of product? What dollar amount of found money is high enough to turn in to management?

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:23 AM

      “Hot merch” haha… Haven’t heard that since my high school days :)

      Interestingly enough when we’re talking cold hard cash I try to return it 100% of the time. Sometimes you can never find the owner of it (like if it was cash/coins on the floor in a super busy area and/or a totally deserted one), but if it happens at the resister I bring it up every time no matter the value.

      Actually, just the other month I found two quarters on the ground in front of a house on my daily walk! There were two people sitting out on their deck and I made some funny crack on how their millions were being left outside and went to return it but they refused. For some reason I was adamant that they keep it so I left it on the ground and kept walking, haha… (I always pick it up if no one’s around though – not gonna be knocking on peoples’ doors :))

  37. FinanceSuperhero July 13, 2016 at 8:21 PM

    I’ve been there before! Not to adopt a holier-than-y’all attitude, but I’ve always returned the items to guest services or returned to the check out to pay for them.

    On the flip side, I often find that I get home and don’t have an item that I paid for, though this happens more when ordering take out than shopping in a store. THAT bugs me!

  38. iFreebies July 13, 2016 at 8:40 PM

    Interesting question and I can say I’ve done all but D at one point or another in my life. Now the answer is always A, go back in and pay for it. I can tell you though despite in my mind being the right thing to do it is not always the easiest. Years ago I had a job and pretty much daily got lunch at the Arby’s drive thru between sales appointments. One day after I got my food as I was pulling off I realized they gave me my change with the food as if I had given them a $20 bill instead of the $10 I had really given them. I caught this about 90 feet after I had pulled off. I decided to pull around the drive thru and give it back to them but the line was extremely long and I didn’t have time before my next meeting so I drove off with Option C in mind.

    The next day I went back there and placed my usual order. When I drove up to the window I gave the cashier the money for my order and the extra money from the day before. I explained they gave me too much change and I didn’t catch it until was out of the line. Well the cashier argued with me and didn’t want to take my money. Then she went and got her manager and they both said yesterday was cashed out and just keep the money. I refused and spent the better part of 15 minutes arguing with them before they would take the extra money. In hind sight kind of silly on my part but darn it I was committed to “do the right thing”. Still think it was the right decision but I hope I don’t have to go through that much trouble again should the situation arise.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:25 AM

      Oh man, good for you…. I would have returned the next day too and did that if it was in my daily routine, but would have accepted their “just keep it” on the spot haha…

  39. Sandy July 14, 2016 at 12:41 AM

    This has never happened to me. But on countless occasions the stores have charged me too much for an item or two or three in one shopping trip and I had to go back and stand in customer service line because the cashier could not tell a cucumber from a zucchini and didn’t care to look inside the plastic bag and charged me for the wrong item. The stores in my area used to give you the item for free if it was their mistake, I guess because you had to stand in line and correct their mistake. Now they just adjust the price and give you the over charged amount back and at times they don’t even say sorry or something equivalent. Only Whole Foods that I shop at still gives the item for free if it is their mistake. Happy times at the beach, enjoy. :)

  40. Arlene July 14, 2016 at 11:54 AM

    I wasn’t going to comment, but I’ve been thinking about this ever since you posted it. I really believe honor is honor, no matter what the price. What is your integrity worth? You will be honest for $100 but not for $1? I think it is even more important to show integrity if there are children involved. Yes, it is a pain to have to haul them back into the store, but where else will children learn honesty and integrity? If the store allows for loss, does that mean we have license to steal, which essentially we are doing if we take something we didn’t pay for? Does it make it ok to steal if we didn’t mean to?
    Yes, I feel strongly about honesty, integrity, and the importance of teaching our children through our example. That said, we just had an incident where we didn’t! We were at Circus, Circus. When we entered the buffet breakfast, we told them that the child with us was 15 and should not be charged as a child – about $5-$10 difference. She looked like a child, so we made sure they knew. After the meal, we went to pay and stood in line for half hour almost. After we finally left we found they had charged her as a child. By then we threw up our arms and said, “Their loss!” So much for my integrity and teaching a child by example!

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:29 AM

      Was not expecting that last part there! Haha…

      But yes – you def.drive home a good point. And I actually agree with you and only wish I could be that perfect :) I will say that the “kids lesson” idea is such a great one that we’ll be implementing it the next time it happens to us as well. I mentioned it in a previous comment above, but now that our kids are old enough it’s a great lesson to share with them and actually turns the annoying experience into a good one! So thanks for chiming in!

  41. Jeff July 14, 2016 at 11:30 PM

    Very interesting! I’m the “B” type of guy. Can’t sweat over the little things and plus if my risk tolerance cant handle one item, then maybe its time I reconsider my position in the stock market! :)

  42. Upwards of Twenty July 15, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    I will start by saying that I have done all A-D. Recently I was with my 5 year old and she was the one that realized we hadn’t paid for an item that she was holding at the time of checkout. I used this as a lesson. We went back in and I made her hand the item to the cashier and help me pay for it. Hopefully she will remember this.

    Side note: I used to be a cart attendant at Target when I was younger and lots of people left items in the bottom of the carts. I always figured they had forgot them. It may have been your wife for all I know.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:30 AM

      I always thought people just forgot them too until reading this by my wife! :)

  43. Millennial Moola July 15, 2016 at 11:03 AM

    I just want to settle up right away at the front whether its their error or mine. I would rather save myself the headache of returning something later

  44. Linda@Frugal Turtle July 16, 2016 at 11:47 AM

    I order expensive cat food online and one time when I ordered one bag, two showed up at my door a few days apart. One of the boxes didn’t have an order slip in it, so it was their mess up. I double checked my order and credit card charge and I only paid for one box. I kept the free bag of cat food!
    My boyfriend accidentally walked out of Wal-Mart with a $2 item he didn’t pay for. He was back home by the time he realized the mistake. Since Wal-mart is a half hour drive away and it was only $2, he just kept it.

    1. J. Money July 19, 2016 at 10:32 AM

      Oddly enough we literally just got a guitar tuner in the mail all the way from china (via Amazon) that we didn’t order in the slightest… We don’t even own a guitar! I’m gonna see what the wife is going to do about it as it was all in her name ;)

  45. Andrea July 16, 2016 at 7:16 PM

    I would say A or when my kids were babies C! What about ever leave the store and make it all the way home just to look at your receipt and find out one of the bags with your yummy food was left at the checkout counter….:-( Have you ever been to the drive through and given your order correctly and when you get up to the window it’s not right but they give you the item even though they didn’t ring it up? That’s happened on occasion and I offer to pay and they just motion me on my way :-)

  46. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank July 16, 2016 at 7:52 PM

    It really depends on the situation and how I feel about it. If it is just one or two, I’d take it back or if it’s many, I’d leave it there. But, more often, I leave it.

  47. Stephonee July 21, 2016 at 10:06 AM

    The only time I remember this happening to me was at a big-box store, where we had bought a new lamp and lampshade. The lamp base was about $10, the shade was about $15, but because we had put them together in the cart, the cashier only scanned the $10 lamp base and failed to notice there was also a barcode to scan on the lampshade. We didn’t really notice at checkout (we bought a good amount of stuff for our new home that day), so it was only as we were putting the lamp in the trunk of our car that it occurred to us that the total due was a little lower than it maybe should have been.

    We took it as the store’s cost of doing business for not training their employees well on scanning lamps, since they have a lot of lamps for sale. But again, that’s also basically the *only* time I can think of that happening to myself or my husband, so we don’t really have a standard philosophy for what to do in that situation. We did talk briefly about what to do at that time, once we figured it out.

    1. J. Money July 21, 2016 at 4:25 PM

      Oh man, I’d forget to do that allll the time if I were a cashier there, haha… I only realized you could even by them separately like last year! :)

  48. David @ Thinking Thrifty July 25, 2016 at 5:03 AM

    I suppose a nice thing to do is give it to charity maybe? I often go Wombling at ASDA (Wallmart) to cash in on their price promise guarantee and I take the shopping I get from the vouchers to a local food bank and homeless charity.

  49. atrink December 10, 2016 at 8:21 AM

    I also faced the same situation this thanksgiving day. I went for shopping and when I came home i saw there are two hand mixer in the bag. I bought one, from where did the second one came? Then I realized that the cashier must have put it by mistake as it was a very busy day. After few days I went to the shop and returned the item, which I have not paid for.

    1. J. Money December 19, 2016 at 6:47 AM

      Love to hear that, well done :)

  50. Ann July 16, 2018 at 9:59 AM

    I am a C person BUT it is a hassle because it was Walmart and they mark returns if no receipt its a hassle any time or day. I may find another way to keep inventory on track on my next trip there. Its all about Karma!!!!!!!!