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poofandmook's avatar

What would you do if a large retail store made a significant error in your favor?

Asked by poofandmook (17223 points ) January 28th, 2014

I bought a rather expensive pair of boots on Friday. I was writing a check because my deposit was due to hit my account that day but hadn’t yet.

This store processes checks electronically, which typically takes up to 24 hours for it to show pending on your account. There was an issue with their computer during the transaction. At first, the computer wouldn’t recognize the boot in their stock. So she rang up a boot that was priced identically. Then she tendered payment, and something happened and she felt she needed to double check that it went through. The register wasn’t producing a receipt, and she got frustrated and said “do you need the receipt?” To which I said no because I didn’t intend to return the boots. She gave me the check back, as stores do when they process them as e-checks.

It’s Tuesday, and the socks I bought at the same time with my debit card as a separate transaction are there and fully processed… But there is no trace of the boot transaction. I think I just got $180 boots for free.

What would you do in this situation? Would you remedy it? If you would, what are your reasons? And if you would just count free boots as a total score, why?

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83 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Call them and tell the truth. Eventually they will figure it out and come back to you, or fire the sales person.

Honesty IS the best policy.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think it’s bad kharma to know you got something for free and take advantage of someone’s error. What if the sales clerk gets fired or has their pay docked? We all make mistakes. Good people cut others some slack. If you make a mistake would you like someone to help you out or laugh at your error?

Judi's avatar

I would go back and talk to a manager.
My former mother in law always felt like she hit the jackpot when things like this happened. I was appalled especially when she bragged about it in front of my children.

poofandmook's avatar

I need to note that I am not looking for advice… I am just curious what other folks have to say.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

No advice, you can do whatever you want. But I don’t run that way.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Someone may very well lose their job over this; unjustifiably, IMO. They may even be wrongly accused of theft, which is a disaster in one’s background and can cause economic discomfort for quite some time for them and their dependents. Whenever this happens, you must consider these things. Always give it back.

zenvelo's avatar

I’d wait until tomorrow, and see if it was processed yet. It sometimes takes a couple business days, especially if you bought it late on Friday it would not have processed until today.

If it doesn’t show by tomorrow morning, I’d call the store. And don’t spend the money because there is a pretty strong likelihood it will be processed eventually.

Ask yourself this question: what would you do if you found the store had processed your check twice?

livelaughlove21's avatar

Apparently Fluther is full of really good people. Honestly, I’d probably bring the error to their attention, but I’d be really tempted not to. I worked at Lowe’s for a short spell and things like this happened all the time – I never saw or heard of anyone losing their job over it. It’s like when people leave a restaurant without paying for their meal (which I’m certainly not condoning) and others might say “the server is going to have to pay for that!” Well, not in my experience. I worked at Applebee’s for a year and, though the manager wasn’t happy when something like that happened, he’d just comp the meal and go about his shift.

My husband once got a $100 amp for his car at Wal-Mart. He also purchased a couple of small, inexpensive things at the same time. The cashier, who happened to be rude anyway, went to ring up the amp and, even though it made an error noise, she placed it in the bag. The total ended up being about $27. He sort of looked at her and then at the amp, and she said, “it rang up” in an annoyed voice. So, he shrugged and paid the $27, walking right out of the store with the amp. At the time, we’d been dating for about six months and I told him karma would get him for that. To make things worse, he didn’t like the amp and ended up returning it, sans receipt of course, and got the $100 in store credit. Oy! He said that, if the cashier wasn’t such a bitch in the first place or if it had been any place other than Wal-Mart, he would’ve insisted it didn’t ring up. He was 18 then, and I’d hope he wouldn’t do something like that now.

filmfann's avatar

Be the person you want to be.

Kropotkin's avatar

Large retail store you say?—Good day for you. Hope it doesn’t clear.

No such thing as karma, so no need to worry about that.

If you’re relatively affluent and the $180 doesn’t affect you either way, then sure—inform them and feel smug about how much more moral you are than someone like me.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I can actually relate to @Kropotkin here. I think that, if there’s something to be said about the person that doesn’t bring attention to such an error, then there’s also something to be said about the person that does so they can feel good about themselves for being such an awesome person, and later make others feel like crap for not doing the same thing. And, in the grand scheme of things, a large retail store isn’t going to cause a big stink over $180. They’re keeping most of the profits anyway – after all, they’re probably only paying their employees minimum wage.

Like I said, I probably would correct the mistake, but only so I don’t feel guilty. Does that make me a good, moral person? Absolutely not.

ragingloli's avatar

You know they would fuck you over if they could, and that if they made an error in their favour, they would fuck you over, too.
So in conclusion.

Cruiser's avatar

Call the store and clear up the matter. Plus would you really enjoy such a nice expensive pair of boots you got for free as you would if you paid for them?

hey_now's avatar

If you did go back I don’t see how they could charge you for the boots if there is no record of the faulty transaction. They would probably let you walk back out of the store with the boots you got for free.

Something similar happened to me but the purchase was much smaller. I bought some groceries from a big chain and paid by check. It totalled $20. Later on during the day I took the receipt and check they returned to me out of my purse and I noticed that there was no printing on the check from the electronic transaction. The amount never came out of my checking account. I didn’t feel bad. I thought about all the times I’ve looked at my receipt when I’ve returned from grocery shopping and noticed that I was charged twice for one item. Did the store hunt me down and give me back the money from their mistake?

ibstubro's avatar

I’m totally with @Kropotkin here. If they find the error, they will debit your card, no harm, no foul. If they do not find the error, it will be covered by insurance (or not) and there will be no repercussions.

Compensation for all those minor errors you never caught, or never got around to returning. All those ‘rebate’ forms you didn’t get sent in, in a timely fashion.

Winner winner, chicken dinner.

poofandmook's avatar

People bring up good points.

I can say from having worked in retail, nobody would ever get fired for that unless it was a frequent mistake. So that’s not an argument.

Also, while I normally don’t like @ragingloli‘s point of view, it’s completely spot on. The store wouldn’t think twice about taking my money if the mistake is in their favor, and that hit is much harder on me than losing a pair of boots is for them. Retail stores always have an allowance for shrink. I don’t have an allowance for being double charged that much money.

josie's avatar

Every time you cheat, you get a tiny dose of spiritual poison. The doses are cumulative. Eventually you will experience symptoms. Anxiety, depression, even degenerative conditions and cancer may, in some individuals have their origins in philosophical corruption.
You should correct the error.

Seek's avatar

Ooh, look. Free boots.

Not that I’d ever consider spending $180 on boots. But I sincerely doubt Sears, Roebuck and Co. or whoever you purchased it from is going to miss that tiny bit of money.

You should see the dumpsters at a Foot Locker at season change. Hundreds of pairs of brand new shoes, shredded so homeless people don’t grab a pair for free.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr “Hundreds of pairs of brand new shoes, shredded so homeless people don’t grab a pair for free.”

Really?! How stupid. Can employees take them?

kritiper's avatar

Contact them and straighten it out. After all, I am a businessman with a reputation of honesty in the community. If I’m not honest with another business, it could come back to bite me. Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy!

Seek's avatar

I doubt it, @livelaughlove21 but I don’t know for sure. My info comes from my stepfather who used to be a garbageman.

ragingloli's avatar

Hmm, maybe you could ask to get your money back. If you are lucky, they forget to ask to see the receipt.

poofandmook's avatar

No, you can’t take the shoes. They make you pay for them. But they’re going to destroy them anyway. It’s sickening. Why not donate them? Tax write off! That should be enough of a reason even if doing the right thing isn’t.

jca's avatar

Call me evil but I wouldn’t say anything. I’d let the chips fall where they may. Nobody is getting fired over it. The boots that she rang up were not the boots that you got anyway.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I have two problems with your post.

One, check-kiting is illegal and a horrible habit to get into, which appears to be what you did.

Second, anything you receive that you do not purchase is stealing whether you get caught or not.

I would take them back and sort it out after going to the bank and making sure the purchase did not go through your account and take the store a copy of your statement.

WestRiverrat's avatar

It would depend on how the clerk treated me during the transaction. If the clerk was friendly and helpful, I would be more inclined to inform the store of the mistake, especially if I shopped there often.

If the clerk treated me worse than the stuff she stepped in coming to work, I wouldn’t think twice about not bringing the error to anyone’s attention.

poofandmook's avatar

@KNOWITALL: Yeah, it was a bad habit I got into out of necessity when I couldn’t afford groceries and had nothing in the fridge the day before payday. I stopped a long time ago… I’m not sure what compelled me to do it this time. People make mistakes.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@poofandmook Just be careful, I had a friend that got in trouble with that and had to pay some money, etc..

CWOTUS's avatar

I do the same as I do with any transaction, large or small, at any establishment, large or small, chain store or local mom-and-pop, that goes either for or against me. I try to correct it when I notice it, unless the mistake was small enough (usually less than a dollar or so) as to be insignificant. But I may not always notice all errors, either, since I don’t religiously check my receipts.

gailcalled's avatar

Given the conscience that I inherited, I would have no choice but to remedy it. My internal moral compass keeps operating all the time.

poofandmook's avatar

@josie: I’m sorry.. are you somehow implying that I could get cancer or some other horrible malady if I don’t correct the mistake? Really?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would tell them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@KNOWITALL I lived on check kiting!!!

thorninmud's avatar

I would pay.

In my mind, as soon as I’ve agreed to forfeit that $180, that money isn’t mine anymore. It’s exactly as if I had found $180 lying on the sidewalk, and I know whose money it is. The fact that someone made the mistake of dropping it doesn’t mean it’s not theirs anymore.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@DutchessIII A lot of people do, I’m not judging, just telling you my friend almost got in serious trouble doing that. No bueno.

thorninmud's avatar

@KNOWITALL You mean finding money and keeping it?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@thorninmud Nope, check kiting.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@KNOWITALL I’m pretty sure you meant to direct that at @poofandmook, not @thorninmud.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, she was talking to Thorninmud

thorninmud's avatar

I wasn’t part of the check kiting conversation. I didn’t even know what “check kiting” was.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@thorninmud It’s how really poor people make ends meet and sometimes end up in jail or with fines for just feeing their family.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@thorninmud You write a hot check knowing it won’t clear for X number of days, then you scramble to get money deposited in on the day it DOES clear. I never failed.

thorninmud's avatar

Ah. That’s not what I was talking about, but at least I’ve expanded my lexicon.

poofandmook's avatar

I only did it if I knew I would have money in the account in less than 24 hours. I honestly don’t think I was wrong even if technically it’s considered kiting.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK, ok! I said, “I lived on check kiting!”

@KNOWITALL said, to me, “A lot of people do, I’m not judging, just telling you my friend almost got in serious trouble doing that. No bueno.”

@thorninmud, you said to KNOWITALL, in response to that, “You mean finding money and keeping it?

@KNOWITALL said, to you, Thorn, “Nope, check kiting.”

Then @livelaughlove21 said to KNOWITALL ”@KNOWITALL I’m pretty sure you meant to direct that at @poofandmook, not @thorninmud.”

I said, “No, she was talking to thorninmud,”

Then you got really confused @thorninmud and I’m giggling hysterically!

downtide's avatar

Put it this way. If they “accidentally” billed me twice by mistake would they call me and say “Oh, sorry we made a mistake, here’s your money back”. Like hell they would. They’d wait for me to complain. So, yeah I’d do exactly the same. I’d keep the money aside for two or three months just in case the transaction suddenly did clear, but I wouldn’t give it back unless they asked for it.

When my mum and dad got married they bought a fridge from the Co-op and they never got billed. That free fridge lasted them over 20 years.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@poofandmook Yeah…24 hours. Occasionally I’d push it to 2 days. I didn’t think it was a big deal, then I worked for a bank for a while and found out it’s a major crime!

jca's avatar

Or have an account with overdraft protection, and kiting or bouncing checks won’t be an issue.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III It WAS funny…lol Who’s on first?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca Oh no no no no. $30 a pop? That was a day’s income for me then! We have it now and we lean on it for an occasional loan of a few hundred dollars because you can’t beat $30 in interest on a $400 loan. But then? No. A $30 overdraft on a $10 check would have seriously jacked me up.

@KNOWITALL I think you meant to direct that to @Dutchess_III. :)

livelaughlove21's avatar

What is so confusing about this? @thorninmud never said a thing about check kiting, @poofandmook did. @KNOWITALL‘s “A lot of people do” answer was originally directed at @thorninmud, which is why I said what I did. Apparently she edited it to say @Dutchess_III instead. So, I was wrong about who the right person was, but the kiting stuff had nothing to do with @thorninmud.

MadMadMax's avatar

@livelaughlove21 “Really?! How stupid. Can employees take them?”

I know this is late in answering but when I worked part time at Sears and someone exchanged a vacuum cleaner that I fixed myself, I was forced to throw it out – destroy it. Employees could not keep returned merchandise and the stuff had to go in the trash. Ridiculous. I had discovered the customer had not used a vacuum cleaner bag – idiot. So I used a different vac and cleaned it out. I took the plus off another vac bound for the trash – it had an extra long extended plug. I cleaned the head, put in a new bag, tried it out and it worked great. I offered to buy it as a discounted return and the answer was NO. It had to be destroyed and put out in a manner that a poor person couldn’t find it and use it. Sometimes people would look through the trash for discarded clothing or appliances they could use and they made sure hat could not happen.

Judi's avatar

@MadMadMax,
When I worked in hardware at sears we sold used items at a discount all the time.
I was a supervisor so my husband would negotiate with the other supervisor all the time. People often bought a tool for a job then returned it after their job was done. “Satisfaction guarinteed or your money back.”
The tools were perfectly good, just returned and we discontinued them 50% or more.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@livelaughlove21 @KNOWITALL‘s comment about “A lot of people do,” was directed at me. @thorninmud was just asking for clarification about what @KNOWITALL‘s comment was referring to, and it was referring to my comment about check kiting. The fact that she corrected who she was referring to started the confusion and it got hilarious to me! :D Who’s on second?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@MadMadMax Your comment reminds of this crazy woman who opened a restaurant here in town once. Long story short, I offered to help her out when she was in a bind and I found my self working as a short order cook in addition to my regular job. Her specialty was lasagna. At one point she told me that one of her other employees was always asking to take the pans of left over lasagna (that was to be thrown out) home for his dog. Crazy lady said, “I don’t think he’s really giving it to his dog! I think he’s feeding it to his family!” The comment and tone of voice left no doubt that if he was feeding it to his family she wouldn’t have allowed him to take it home. Seriously left me scratching my head.
Her restaurant didn’t last long.

MadMadMax's avatar

@Judi Not electronic or electrical goods that a person got a full refund for due to malfunction. If they were typed into the system as doa’s and the customer got a replacement, the item had to go in the trash.

I just happened to notice that the item was not really doa, the customer had not used a bag so it was horribly clogged. I unclogged it, fixed it up perfectly but was not permitted to buy it.

MadMadMax's avatar

@Dutchess_III I see that attitude or philosophy in libertarians. They would rather a poor man died then spend a penny to give him a piece of bread.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In this case, she didn’t even have to spend a penny. It was just insane to me.

LornaLove's avatar

I hate my answer as I would remedy it. I just have this shitty conscious issue where I feel if I do good I get good. How true is this? I really am not sure. I feel like I have done good all my life and most of the time got kicked in the chops.

I also know their mark-up is around 100% so who cares? I guess I do.

Other people, as we are not all the same, wouldn’t give a fig since their moral conscious would not prick them. So, I relate to what @josie said in that I’d end up sick.

There is something though, in the idea that what goes around comes around. Life has a funny way of stealing back what has been stolen from other’s. It’s like a redistribution of wealth. I think it is called karma?

MadMadMax's avatar

I would tell them about the mistake because I know from experience that when there is a $$ mistake in your favor, the poor check out person could be held responsible.

cheebdragon's avatar

I bought some cute converse from nordstroms online using a gift card and when they arrived they were the wrong size, so I called and notified them of their mistake and they told me that I could return the shoes in a local store, so I did, and these were also in the wrong box size so they said they would have them shipped directly to the store for me to pick up but never asked for the wrong sized shoes back. I was so pissed after all the run around and errors that I just gave the wrong sized shoes to my friends daughter instead of returning them like I probably should have.
Whatever, fuck them, they make bank every day, 1 pair of $60 shoes is not going to bring them down.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@cheebdragon But you paid for them so they were yours to do with what you want. Or did they refund your money?

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Dutchess_III She never returned the second pair and got a replacement. She got two pairs of shoes for the price of one.

ibstubro's avatar

I once had a “HUGE” ordeal with a company over a 200 disc CD changer. One of those “We shipped it yesterday.” “Oh, there was a backlog, it’s packed and will ship in the morning.” deals. Went on for weeks. Finally, it came. Week later, another one came. I waited a couple, three months and I was telling a buddy of mine about it. Seems like I sold him the $300 changer for around $100, 150.

Another time I had complained and complained to UPS about leaving packages at my house unattended. They had left a box with the neighbor, telling him, “put your John Henry here.” He wrote ‘John Henry’, they handed him the box and off they went. (It was a 4 plex and I didn’t even know his name.) Boxes had blown off the (communal) front porch. On day I get home and the screen door is ajar, and there’s a package laying on the porch (I had moved across the street by then.) I was so mad! Open it up, and what’s inside? A $2500 set of sterling silver flatware that I had ordered! I was sorely temped to wait a week and contact the seller, asking about the package. Would have served UPS right! I didn’t do it though…that really would have been my wrong.

cheebdragon's avatar

You paid $2500 for flatware?

livelaughlove21's avatar

I bought my first car for less than $2500. I’m sorry, but that’s sort of ridiculous. They better cook the meal and wash the dishes for you, too, for that price.

ibstubro's avatar

It was valued at $2500 at the time. Don’t remember what I paid. The hell of it was that within the month I bought a used set at auction for $125. That set’s now living another life somewhere after being scrapped, but I currently have 4–5 sets of sterling flatware.

I would imagine I paid about ½ of retail on the original 8, 5 piece place settings (plus servers), so it was still a solid investment. The local jeweler was impressed at the time because I paid less than what he would have had to pay if a customer wanted him to get them a set.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I love auctions!

ibstubro's avatar

I used to, @Dutchess_III, until we started having our own, 2–3 times per month. Now I’m so used to being busy at auction, the others bore me to tears. My M.O. now is to pre-shop local auctions and leave bids if there’s something I can’t live without.

I love re-sale and thrift shops. I now have two pairs of $225 jeans I bought for $4 per pair. $250 boots @$6. I can wear about a retail grand worth of clothes that I have about $20 invested in.

cheebdragon's avatar

I used to work at an auction, they can be fun, but thrift stores are better in my opinion.
One of the thrift stores by my house does a thing when they get too much stuff, where they will give you a large grocery or shopping bag and you can stuff it as full as you possibly can with whatever you find in the store for $10 flat.

ibstubro's avatar

I do better at thrift, too, @cheebdragon. I like them better because I can shop for underpriced junk, then the clothes are a side benefit. I’m currently shopping jeans for 5–6 different men. Shoes for 3–4, tops for 2–3. There’s no reason not to, as Goodwill does not sort by size. I got a friend got a great pair of Banana Republics yesterday for $4.

We don’t sell clothes at our auction, but if we do a clean-out the church ladies make polyester quilts for overseas and we have 2 couples that make denim rugs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I love thrift stores too. But they don’t sell BBQ sandwiches and 2 brownies for $.50 like auctions do!

ibstubro's avatar

We have a hell of a food spread, @Dutchess_III, but it’s not that cheap. All homemade though, from chili to cobbler.

There is a thrift in Springfield Illinois that has a generic Starbucks right inside the store.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sorry…the brownies are 2 for $.50. The sandwiches are, like, $2.50 I think. Still cheap. And all home made.

ibstubro's avatar

$2.50 is about our average, too. Regular hot dogs less, cheeseburgers $3.50 I think. Homemade cobblers. The Rice Krispie Treats are like when I was a kid…so much ‘goo’ that part of it settles to the bottom.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Auction food, mmmm!!!

ibstubro's avatar

Super nachos are the fav…a big late of corn chips with cheese, hamburger and all the fixins for under $4. I don’t eat meat, but you can tell by looking that the homemade chicken salad is wonderful. Chunky/creamy. Pulled pork, giant hotdogs, maid rites (local fav of over salted, greasy crumbled hamburger), pimento cheese…it just goes on and on.

:)

Dutchess_III's avatar

I hate that canned nacho cheese though. Icky!

ibstubro's avatar

I like the canned cheese. We don’t used the flavored kind (nacho), but just the cheddar. There are jalapeno peppers and onions and stuff that you add yourself. Sour cream and salsa in a little plastic container, if you ask. We’re all dialed in. :)

jca's avatar

Church sales are good, too. About as good as thrift shops, IMHO. I don’t buy clothes, and I try to limit my “crap” intake because my house is not that big, but I will buy stuff for crafts (for example, boxes that can be sanded and decoupaged).

ibstubro's avatar

Most of our thifts here are church based, so it’s a lot like a running church sale, @jca.
My crap intake appears to be infinite. Sigh

cheebdragon's avatar

The lady who ran the snack stand (auctioneers wife) at the auction I worked for was a huge bitch to everyone and not worth dealing with.

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