How Checking Our Grocery Bill Saved Us $14

My wife usually takes care of the grocery shopping.  On days when she does the shopping, I always come home and asked to see the bill.

It’s not because I’m checking up on her or that I’m questioning any of her choices, it’s just I have a pretty good eye for spotting errors.

And you’d be surprised how often I find them.

Just last week, I found a whopper that, had I not taken a look, would have cost us $14.

The Bill Seems High

My wife was talking about the grocery trip and how everything went (most notably, a worker from behind the deli counter offered my kids free ice cream…yum), when she commented that “the bill seemed pretty high”.

At $66, it was actually lower than usual, but it was also a smaller trip than most weeks, as they weren’t having great sales on many items we often stock up on, and we didn’t buy any meat or other ‘high priced’ items.

She showed me the bill, and I started looking through line by line when I noticed a line for $14 for cherries.

I incredulously asked her, “You spent $14 buying three-and-a-half pounds of cherries?”  We don’t usually buy cherries, even when they’re on sale, so this seemed crazy.

She ripped the receipt from my hand, looked, and said “No, I didn’t buy any cherries at all!”

What Fruit Most Closely Resembles A Cherry?

She started looking through the rest of the bill and noticed that there was no charge for another item that she had indeed purchased.

What fruit is small and red and could probably be mistaken for cherries by a rushed cashier?

Red grapes.

Red grapes were on sale for $0.99 per pound.  The cashier gave a quick glance, entered in the code for what he thought it looked like, and moved on.

Full Refund

My wife called the store (Meijer) and explained what had happened.  The person answering the phone apologized, gave my wife his or her name and logged it in a book, so that my wife can just go in, take the receipt, and get a refund.

The best part is that they said that they wouldn’t just give the difference, but that they’ll give us a refund for the full line item.

So, not only do we get the mistake corrected, we’ll also end up with free grapes.

All because we took the time to look through our bill.

Quite Frequent Though Less Costly

You might be wondering how often we find mistakes.  I’d say at least once per month.  Sometimes I’ll find that something appeared twice, only to find out that we only got one.  The dreaded double bar code scan.

Other times, we might find a missed store promotion that did not get applied, even though we purchased everything exactly as required.

Rarely does it work out anywhere near $14.  Usually it’s a mistake of a few dollars. I believe that the mistakes are honest mistakes.  I don’t think the cashiers have any interest in trying to overcharge or double charge.  I just think that most of the time they are going so fast trying to get through the many customers as quickly as possible that they make mistakes.

It’s our job as customers to make sure that we check for mistakes.  Ideally, we’d be able to catch the mistakes as they’re being rung up, so that my wife would have noticed the charge when the cashier entered it, but with two small children to manage, it’s not always possible.

So, if you can’t check in the store, make sure to check when you get home, otherwise it’s not the store making the mistake, it’s you!

Readers, what mistakes have you caught on your grocery or other store receipts?

17 thoughts on “How Checking Our Grocery Bill Saved Us $14”

  1. My grocery bill is always difficult to read with their abbreviations, discounts, and line items. It’d be hard for me to easily spot an error. But, I should probably start double checking since our grocery bill is one category in our budget that I’d like to reduce!

  2. Great reminder post. I just had this happen the other day too. The cashier was ringing up my peaches (which were on sale, score!) but entered the wrong code, he was just off by a digit. What should’ve cost me about 1.50-2.00 for peaches was instead about $8. Luckily, I don’t have kids to manage so I caught the error right then and he fixed it. I try to always pay attention while things are being rung up, but sometimes I miss it and have to go back to get the errors fixed.

    • ” Luckily, I don’t have kids to manage”.

      Sound like you are taking a dig at those who have kids. Kudos to you for stepping up to the plate. Let the comments begin!

    • Walmart is awful with abbreviations but on the other hand, their receipts aren’t six feet long, which is always frustrating when you have a big bill and you end up with half a roll of paper.

  3. It’s funny how errors usually seem to be in the direction of the consumer being overcharged, rather than undercharged. I wonder how often cherries would be mistaken for grapes, the other way around! Anyway, your example is a really good one of how these things can happen. $14 is a big overcharge for a grocery bill, nice job finding it.

  4. I try to watch all of the scans and transactions that the cashier is completing while watching the price screen. I was watching an episode of extreme couponers, and the individual said she saved a lot of money that would other wise be missed unless you were watching carefully.

  5. My wife and I always check the receipt before we leave the store for just that reason. One time she bought balsamic glaze (a bit of a splurge) for what seemed like an unbelievably low price on the shelf tag. But it rung up at $6, which she caught before leaving. Customer service checked it against the shelf price, which was incorrect, and she got the item for free.

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