General Question

lillycoyote's avatar

If a cashier inadvertently gives you 5 dollars more in change than you're due and you keep it, is that stealing?

Asked by lillycoyote (24798points) May 17th, 2009

Why or why not?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

36 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Yes, it is known as “Stealing by Finding” here in Australia. The same as when a bank accidentally credits your account with more money than you have.

YARNLADY's avatar

To me it would feel like stealing, which is why I never do. If I get too much, I give it back.

It is stealing because the owner of the store is in business to pay his bills just like the rest of us. If it is a large corporation, they just pass the cost of losses back to the consumer, so you would be stealing from yourself and everyone who shops there.

Darwin's avatar

Yes. It isn’t your money and was never intended to be a gift to you. If a store overcharges you, don’t you expect a refund once it is discovered? By the same token, if a store makes an error in your favor, shouldn’t the store expect you to point it out?

Buying and selling is not an adversarial process (well, except maybe at some car dealerships), so you aren’t “winning” if the cashier messes up.

If I get too much I give it back, just as if someone short-changes me I expect them to make that good as well.

Allie's avatar

I guess it is. I can understand how it would be. I don’t think it’s outright theft, but a form of it sure.
Depending on how much it is I might give it back. (The people above are making me feel like a bad person.)

Girl_Powered's avatar

It depends. When they overcharge you, can you charge them with stealing? Goose and Gander situation here.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Yes. If you’ve ever been a cashier you know why. They get their butts busted if their cash drawer comes up short.

_bob's avatar

If you noticed when you were there, and didn’t say anything, yes.

AstroChuck's avatar

If you are aware of it, yes, of course it is.
Do you really feel I need to explain why?

Kenyan's avatar

It depends, if you know that your were givin back to much money then yes, it is stealing

Judi's avatar

Of course it’s stealing. I have been the recipient of to many honest souls to wreck my karma by making that poor cashiers till not balance at the end of their shift.

lillycoyote's avatar

@AstroChuck because I have encountered a fair number of people who act like getting extra change at the store is like winning the lottery. I was more interested in here the why not rather than the why. But now you have made me expose my intentions…

Bluefreedom's avatar

Yes, it’s stealing. Yes, it makes a person dishonest because they didn’t give it back and it says very little about their integrity which is virtually nonexistent in this case. There’s only one reason why – because it’s wrong to keep something that never belonged to you in the first place.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Yes it is stealing… you are knowingly taking something that doesn’t belong to you.

Plus you’re probably also stealing directly from the cashier… many cashiers have to pay back any money that their drawer is short, or could even lose their job. Would you let that happen to the cashier? No!

casheroo's avatar

Yes, also that cashier might have to pay up the difference which isn’t cool at all.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

In what whacked out world would that not be stealing?

MrItty's avatar

Of course it is. If you accidentally give the cashier a $20 when you thought you were giving a $10, and she pockets the extra $10, isn’t that stealing? What’s the difference in reverse?

Even if the cashier gave you the extra change intentionally, it’s not hers to give. It’s the store’s. At the very least, that would make it receipt of stolen goods…

dynamicduo's avatar

By definition, you have taken something that does not belong to you. Thus it is stealing.

In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter a lot, there are safeguards put in place (in most places) so that cashiers aren’t forced to make up their till (but if they keep being bad cashiers and having negative till counts at the end of their shift, they’ll eventually be fired). But I’m a jovial believer in karma, thus I would give back the $5 to give myself a positive karma boost.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Of course it’s stealing. That money’s not yours. That’s not right, no matter how you look at it.

GAMBIT's avatar

It would seem if you do not return it it would be you who has lost more in the transaction. For you can not put a price on honesty.

Supacase's avatar

Of course it is.

Facade's avatar

Yes, it is. That’d be taking what isn’t yours. The cashiers are very appreciative when you give it back.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Yes, it’s stealing; it’s not what you were owed.

cwilbur's avatar

I’m not sure it’s stealing. I think stealing requires active intent.

On the other hand, whether it’s stealing or not, it’s wrong.

Judi's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater ; My first mother in law was short changed by a cashier early in her marriage, when she could least afford it. She took that as a license to rip off any cashier, when ever she could. It was really sad. I was appalled when my daughter was a toddler and she walked out of a restaurant with a teddy bear being sold at the cash register in her hands. I insisted that she march right back in, return it and apologize. My in-laws thought I was crazy! (I held my ground, and garnered much family criticism.)

essieness's avatar

Yes, you’re taking something that isn’t yours, or… stealing.

MrItty's avatar

@cwilbur “active intent” is given when you walk out the door knowing that you have something that doesn’t belong to you.

Zaku's avatar

What if you don’t notice either? Is an accidental mistake in a transaction a crime for the beneficiary even if they have no idea it happened? That seems ridiculous to assert so, to me.

From a moral standpoint, I agree that if you know you’re being given something you don’t deserve, the moral thing (in my own morality, which I would not impose on others without their agreement) would be to speak up and correct the mistake.

However from a legal standpoint, I think that you cannot criminalize someone for a mistake made by someone else, and you often cannot prove that they know about the mistake, so making a law based on what someone knows seems like a bad idea that would be unenforceable in many cases and cause social distress in others (imagine being forced to testify that a friend confided in you that they didn’t speak up when someone overpaid them), so I would hope that the law would clearly acknowledge that there can be innocent mistakes and people are not to be criminalized for not speaking up when benefiting from someone else’s mistake.

At least on a personal level. On a corporate level, I think there should be a correction against the likes of credit card companies, utilities, banks and insurance companies whom individuals depend on to be very upstanding, yet who can and do make a lot of profit by sloppy bookkeeping, difficult billing practices, obscure complicated bills, avoiding paying money due with complex processes and rules, excessive fees and fines, etc.

bea2345's avatar

It is called larceny by finding in Trinidad, and yes, it is stealing.

Blondesjon's avatar

It’s only considered stealing if they catch their mistake.

Unless the occurence happens at the golden arches and then it is McStealing.

SuperMouse's avatar

Yes I consider it stealing. Also, I refuse to buy in to the argument that goes “well they have probably over-charged me so many times, this is just a drop in the bucket toward making things even.”

lillycoyote's avatar

@cwilbur the “active intent” occurs the minute you realize that you have been given too much change, when you realize you are in possession of something that does not belong to you.

augustlan's avatar

Even if you don’t realize the mistake until later, if you don’t then correct the mistake… it’s still stealing.

Judi's avatar

didn’t my dad used to till me a story about Abraham Lincoln in this situation?

YARNLADY's avatar

@augustlan I agree. I have even returned to the store when I discovered a mistake. Once they only charged me for one package, and I bought two, so back I went. The manager said forget it. On the other side, I also take things back when they aren’t right, and usually get satisfaction, like the spoiled potatoes last week.

LostInParadise's avatar

Of course it is stealing. Let me pose a similar question. Suppose, as happened to me once, you pay for something by check and come home to find the check is in the package along with the item you bought. Is it stealing to keep the check? I certainly thought so.

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