Check Your Receipts to Save Money When You’re Checking Out

It’s so important to check your receipts every time you check out. Why? It’s shopping day and you’ve diligently planned your meals, scanned the weekly ads, carefully checked prices, crafted your shopping list, clipped and printed coupons or loaded them to your card, and checked your budget. You arrive at the store (not hungry, of course), efficiently navigate the aisles, avoid impulse buys, and check out. But when you get home and unpack, you look over the receipt and wham! all your diligence is undone by an error on your receipt. It’s so aggravating. Who wants to bother wasting the gas and time to go back to the store?

A grocery shopping receipt because you should always check your receipts

Mistakes on receipts are so very common. In fact, I find at least one mistake on almost every shopping trip! By catching them at the store, you have the opportunity to get it fixed quickly and easily without wasting your savings.

Common Types of Mistakes

There are many types of mistakes that can cost you money if they go unnoticed. Here are a few:

  • An item on sale rings up at the regular price
  • The package has the wrong price
  • Items on sale are not available or as advertised
  • Items ring incorrectly because signs are wrong or missing or have expired
  • Cashier enters the code incorrectly (usually produce or bakery) or misidentifies the item
  • Item rings up at the wrong price because the price was incorrectly programmed in the system
  • Customer mistakes, such as buying the wrong size item for the coupon or sale

The Perfect Example

Before the holidays, my wife purchased a seasonal item which was listed on sale in the weekly ad. It rang up at the full price (almost twice as much as the sale price) and she went to customer service to correct it. It turns out that the item was located in two places (a regular aisle and a seasonal one) and they had two different SKUs. One was on sale and the other wasn’t (the only different was one line on the package). She was able to exchange it for the sale item, but it’s a perfect example of how easily mistakes can happen.

How to Check Your Receipts

So the moral of the story is to check your receipts on every shopping trip. Some people prefer to watch the register as the items are being rung up. I find that I’m often busy packing my groceries while this is happening, so I prefer to move my cart over to the side after I’m done checking out, and scan my receipt for problems.

But how do you know if there’s been a mistake? To be successful at checking your receipt, it’s important to:

  • Know the sale prices (I write them directly on my shopping list)
  • Pay attention to regular prices as you’re shopping for items that aren’t on sale
  • Know what coupons you brought or loaded to your loyalty card (again, I write them directly on my shopping list) and check that they are doubled when applicable
  • Be familiar with the store’s policy on errors – sometimes they will give you the item for free or give you double the difference on the error
  • Look carefully at your receipt because sometimes a discount will appear later on the receipt, or even at the end, not necessarily where the item was first rung up

What to Do If You Find an Error

Next time you’re checking your receipts and find an error, head over to the customer service desk and get what you’re entitled to. If an item rang at the wrong price, you deserve at least the difference, if not more (depending on the reason for the error and the store policy). If a sale item isn’t available, be sure to get a raincheck to purchase it at the sale price another time. And if it was your mistake, such as buying the wrong item, you can exchange it for the correct item to get the deal.

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Final Thoughts

While it’s important to do all those things I mentioned in the beginning—plan meals, review flyers, make a good shopping list, find coupons, check your budget—you’ll still be losing money if you don’t check your receipts. Do it as soon as you check out so you can get it rectified at the store. If you’re shopping online, be sure to double-check your order before clicking “submit”. You don’t want an avoidable error to kill your savings.

When you check your receipts, find errors, and get them resolved, you’ll feel like you really earned that extra savings. What errors have you found, at the supermarket or on other shopping trips, and how did you correct them?

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