[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
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!