Have you ever done this?


Okay…I have a strange question for you folks. On last Sunday afternoon, I had to make a small purchase at the local Wal-Mart. I used the self check-out lane they have. Just as I was getting ready to pay (or had paid), my cell phone rang, and I got very distracted with the call. Later that night, I was unable to find the receipt for the purchase. I waited a few days, but no corresponding transaction showed-up on my checking account. I called the assistant manager of the store, and he checked for voided transactions that corresponded to the date/time/amount that I recalled, but he never found anything.

Now, about a decade ago, I used to work in retail loss prevention for Sears and Nordstroms. That means I was the guy who had to (sometimes) tackle and handcuff the uncooperative shoplifters. Now, I find myself in this embarassing pickle. Would you suggest I just write a check with a letter to the local store, or give it to the church, instead? (I’m wondering if someone may have noticed what happened and paid it for me, but that would be really unlikely.) Or, am I making a mountain of molehill, and should I just relax about the accident?

So, any words of wisdom?


Can you bring the item back to the store, and explain? I’ve accidentally walked out of the grocery store with an item left in the cart that never got paid for, and I just go back with it and pay for it. They are sometimes surprised to see an honest person.


Not long ago, we took the kids to the zoo and brought the stroller. Youngest daughter was in it when my wife visited the gift shop (I hate gift shops). I waited outside with the older daughter and let her throw coins in a fountain (cheaper than going in!).

When she came out I had to ask why our daughter had a plastic coffee mug with the name Michelle on it!

Guess who had to bring it back inside? Hint. The returner was the only family member with a Y chromosome…


Well, it’s good to know that I am not the only one that has done this. As far as bringing back what we bought, I could certainly do that, but something tells me they don’t want used hamster bedding and a hamster ball returned to the store! :slight_smile: In case this is some kind of a bank error, I also don’t want to double pay for these things. (I remember it once took several weeks for a transaction at this particular store to post for some reason, but the fact of the matter is I can’t remember paying.) Perhaps I’ll just send a letter and ask to be contacted if anything comes to the surface… Still thinking.


Did you explain the situation to the assistant manager? What did he say? Are you sure you didn’t pay cash?

If it would have been their fault I know you would have no moral obligation to go out of your way to pay it, but since it wasn’t it might be a good idea to go to customer service one day and explain what happened (or call the assistant manager again). If when you talked w/ the assistant manager he said to let it go, then I would let it go.

Lol, reminds me of something that happened to us on our honeymoon cruise. We were at dock visiting an island (I think this happened in Aruba). We went to a cigar store and picked out a few nice ones for my FIL. We took it to check out and we were having a nice conversation with the owner of the shop as he wrapped the cigars up. When we went to pay we realized we had left the money on the ship, so we told him we were going to go get the money and we would be back to buy the cigars. We left and got aboard and went to our room to get the money. I decided to wash my hands in our room and went to put what I had in my hands on the bed, to only realize that it was the bag of cigars. The man had given me the bag before we had realized we didn’t have the money and I had walked all the way to the ship, gone through security, and walked all the way to my room without realizing I had the cigars with me. Well, we were sooo embarassed. We hurried back to the little shop and went up to the owner to pay. He hadn’t realized that we had left with them either.


Go back and pay the bill.

Your integrity is worth more than the few items you have. Better to double pay, then to walk around life thinking … maybe I did steal those things … hmmmm


The same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. The cashier, I thought, rang up all our items, one didn’t scan. I couldn’t get to the store (with the money) for a few days. When I called them, they told me to bring the package with me so that they can scan it. Well, it is diapers and the package is gone, so what to do now? They didn’t seem so concerned. YOu may need to bring back all the original packaging (which you may not have). Find out what you need to do. To them, it just may be a tax write off at the end of the year and they may not care. However, I’m surprised considering that there usually is someone watching the people scanning the items and paying in those self-checkout lines. I know that I had the checkout staff member recheck the receipt of our items b/c I was surprised at the price of the diapers (what I thought was the price since it was the last item scanned). She rechecked twice and said, “yep, they’re $5.99” when she didn’t see that the $5.99 price was for the previous item.


You know, as many mistakes have probably been made that work in the store’s favor (in other words, that cost you money) as the opposite. My take on this after trying to correct several situations (giving manager’s my credit card number over the phone [and never receiving a receipt], saving things until I can return to the store [but of course I really needed them which is why I bought them in the first place], making a special trip back to the store, etc.) that at this point, unless the mistake is a significant amount of money (and could cost someone their job). I simply don’t worry about it.

Once, a clerk charged me for 66 bagels when I only purchased a half a dozen. I didn’t discover that mistake for about 2 months (as I was going through my reciepts), and since it was about a $30 error, I went back to the store and they refunded my credit card. I wonder how many other errors I didn’t catch when I was trying to keep my babies/toddlers from falling out of the cart, ripping up magazines, opening candy bars, WHILE I WAIT IN LINE to give the store my money.


Sorry, I could not help but notice the emphasis on the waiting thing. I know its not easy to wait especially with the little ones! I had a similar experience and was overcharged a ton. I dont usually get the honor of taking the we one with me. Wow! Is it hard! I dont know how my better half does it!
Except I was too lazy to go back- and too embarrased. The little one tore through the store and tipped displays over and ran wild and was yelling get me out of here!! I felt like they earned the extra money they made off me that day!! :frowning:

thanks for the reminder.


Thanks for all the great advice. I think I’m going to give the transaction another week to show-up, then I’ll mail them a letter and a check–better to error on the side of caution, as some of you have pointed out. It sure is embarrassing, though…


Dear Writer,

For what its worth (not much trust me) I dont think its embarrassing what happened to you. I think you are a great example to follow!:slight_smile:


Ohhhhh poor you mr “y” chromosone… get a grip!!
Kid’s do things that they do not relaize the consequences to… Sorry, I’m not gonna feel sorry for you though that is what you want… I’m a man too… grow up and stop feeling sorry for yourself!!! Wah WAh Wahhhhhh


If you purchases were under $20 don’t worry about it. They expect to have some inventory go missing and that mistakes of this kind will happen. They simply take it all into account when they balance their books. They’re making plenty of money and it’s a big corporation. If it were a local mom and pop store, I’d send a check too, but since you can’t be certain you paid the bill or not, just let it go. It’s not even a venial sin, for goodness sake! :smiley:


Thanks, Damascus… By the way, Manualman, I got a kick out of your zoo story. Thanks for sharing it!


I do that, too. The stunned look on their faces is worth it, if it restores their faith (even a smidgen) in humanity. :slight_smile:


I purchased 2 rugs at Lowes and when I got home I saw that one was not on sale and I got a discount of $40 that I should not have.
I called the manager and explained the situation and he was so SHOCKED that I wanted to pay the difference he was speechless. I told him that I couldn’t look at the rugs and not feel guilty about it! (HELLO Catholic guilt!)
He said that I should not worry about it. He had the authority to decided what was on sale and what wasn’t and that item would be on sale in a little bit. He told me to enjoy the carpet.
I think that you will feel better about discussing it with the manager. If he says “Don’t worry about it” then make sure he has the authority to say so. Otherwise that puts the burden of “stealing” on his soul.


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