Stay Connected

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Returning Food at the Grocery Store

Have you ever returned a food product to the grocery store? I think this sounds strange to a lot of people, perhaps because we undervalue our food supply.  I have been in that mental place, where I have wondered if it would be worth the effort to return a food item.

A week ago, boneless, skinless chicken breasts were on sale at Fred Meyer, for $1.47/lb. I bought 3 large packages, almost 18 pounds of chicken. By the time I was done shopping, my head was pretty tired. Most of the time, I will check my receipt thoroughly, as I'm walking out of the store. You know how it is, there's someone behind you wanting you to move out of the store faster, or give them your cart, or you just feel like you need to get your weary body home. It's not like the grocery store provides a nice little seating area, so that you can take a few-minute break, and look over your receipt.

The day after I bought the chicken, I was dividing up the packages into smaller bundles for the freezer. That's when I noticed the price tags didn't read $1.47/lb, but $1.99/lb. Ugh! This was a substantial difference in price, totaling almost $7 of overcharge.  I needed to go out that afternoon, and would be driving near the store. So, I tore the labels off of the packages, cleaned them up a bit, and wrapped in a paper towel. I grabbed my add and my receipt, and off I went to Fred Meyer. Fortunately, the store was practically empty and I had no wait at the customer service desk. The lady helping me was as nice as can be, and not only refunded the correct amount, but rounded it up to a full $7.

What I have heard from others is that if the food item that you want to return is of a perishable nature, you may not need the food itself, but part of the packaging along with your receipt. Timeliness goes a long way when presenting your case to the customer service desk. That is to say, if you bring evidence of your problem food product, like packaging and receipt, within a couple of days of purchase, you'll likely be offered a refund or replacement product.

Anyway, with my meat purchase, I only needed the label, not all of the packaging. If produce was purchased in a bag (like a bag of oranges), you may want to bring the rest of that bag back to the store. As it was still early in that sale cycle, the grocery store had the opportunity to make sure all the rest of the labels were correct, and my actions may have saved someone else the expense of mistakenly overpaying for chicken.


Alice said...

Yes, that has happened to us before. I think we only need the receipt and nothing else. There used to be a thing on a non-sale item that if the price was listed on the product but it rang up higher you could get a refund of the difference times 10 up to a $10, I think. I don't think they do that anymore since everything is now barcoded for prices.


CTMOM said...

Check your state consumer protection website. Here in CT, if one is mischarged, the customer gets the item FREE, max up to $20 in value. If that scenario played out for me, one pkg would be free and the other 2 would have been adjusted to the $1.47 sale price the $5 or so difference in total for those 2, refunded back to me. Good on you to have checked the receipts. Errors happen, and I am sure the $7 is much happier in your wallet.

Live and Learn said...

I have occasionally returned food. But if I'm already home, I don't always return if the amount is not very much. I would have returned for $7. What I don't like is they don't seem to be able to do much at the register these days. When I catch a problem while checking out, we have to wait for the manager or I have to go to customer service after I check out. The checker used to be able to take care of most of these problems. Oh, well. There's pluses and minuses to everything.

Lili said...

Hi Alice,
I do remember getting items for free, but our stores don't do that any more. That's good that you only needed the receipt.

Have a great day, Alice!

Lili said...

Hi Carol,
That was always voluntary, here in WA. That's great that CT still has that protection. What I did get, though, aside from the customer service rep rounding up the amount, was she gave me cash back and didn't scan my loyalty card, so I still earned fuel and general reward points at the store (2 types of rewards), and as she gave me cash and didn't credit my Visa, I still earned the Visa rewards for the higher price. My rewards bonus was just a matter of pennies, but I'm always grateful for even pennies.

Have a great day, Carol!

Lili said...

Hi live and learn,
Policies are definitely different from store to store. Some stores where I shop, the cashier has authority to offer a substitution of another brand, if a sale item is out; other stores, no such authority. I do remember having the cashier refund mis-charged amounts, always. I don't even know where a customer service desk would have been in stores from 20 years ago. At most of the stores that I shop now, the cashier can change something, if the total purchases haven't been completed. Once the total is made, though, we do have to go someplace else to get it fixed.

My pet peeve is how e-coupons and sales ring up now, at some stores. Some stores still ring the item up at the regular price, but take the sale amount off at the end of the transaction. The sale price shows up on the receipt as the reg. price, with a discount on the line just below it. It force us to do the math to make sure they credited the correct amount, and during the transaction itself, I don't know if I received the sale price, until the very end. Pluses and minuses. . .

I hope your day is off to a great start, live and learn!

Kris said...

Like Live and Learn, I have occasionally returned items--it depends on if the amount I would save is worth my time and gas money. It's generally a great idea to return problem items at Aldi, as they will give you both the amount of money you spent back as well as giving you a replacement item. I used to have problems with their milk (I think it was a problem with the local supplier) and I did just that. I also emailed their corporate headquarters as I had had several experiences of the same problem. They sent me a gift card for the store, with their apologies. The milk problem (it was souring prior to the expiration date) has since been solved--maybe not as timely as I would have hoped, but I do feel like my concerns were heard and addressed (of course, I'm sure I wasn't the only one with a complaint about it!).

Mrs. Armstrong said...

One time, I returned home to find that the cashier had charged me $34 for green onions, instead of $0.34! Needless to say, I returned immediately! I will add that it can be difficult to be diligent at the register when you are bagging your own groceries and wrangling children! But I always check receipts as soon as I can.

Lili said...

Hi Mrs. Armstrong,
Oh yes, at the cash register, there are often other things going on, such as bagging your own. For me, now, it's a matter of not being able to think as clearly, by the time I am leaving the store.

That $34 must have been such a shock! That is the worst overage that I've heard of!
Have a great day, Mrs. Armstrong!

Lili said...

Hi Kris,
I remember you mentioning the problems with the milk there. I'm glad that it was all resolved, but that was a nuisance for you. I think you even went off of buying your milk at Aldi for a while, right?

Have a great day, Kris!

Kris said...

You're right, I did. The milk company changed to a different style container which, I assume, keeps milk fresher for a longer period of time, and I haven't had a problem since. We average drinking about 5 gallons of milk/week--I can typically save at least 10 cents/gallon at Aldi, and sometimes as much as 50 cents/gallon, so I'm glad I can buy my milk there all the time now!

ruthie said...

I have returned a few items but the one I remember most clearly was when I got home from shopping, my bag was drenched from a small hole in the milk carton. It wasn't convenient to take it back right then because I had small children. I put the milk in the freezer with the hole sitting on top. Then when it was convenient I took it back to the store for a replacement

Belinda said...

That was very nice of her to refund your money. I would have done the same thing. $7 can buy more groceries after all. :)

Practical Parsimony said...

I take things back, too. Or, just use the receipt and sometimes the price on the item like you did. Even the small amount is mine, not the corporation's.

Lili said...

Hi Ruthie,
Oh my, but you made a great save on that milk by freezing it, until you could get back to the store!
Have a great evening, Ruthie!

Lili said...

Hi Belinda,
Yes, $7 seemed like a lot of money to me, too! And it was money that really belonged to me, as I'd intended to only spend $1.47/lb and wouldn't have bought the chicken at $1.99/lb. I appreciated how nice the lady was, because some stores' customer service desks are not as pleasant.
Have a lovely evening, Belinda!

Lili said...

Hi Linda,
you are absolutely right, that was really my money, and not some benevolent gift from the store. That's how I felt. I had been watching for chicken breasts to go on sale for $1.50/lb. I don't buy them at $1.99/lb, or even $1.79, which seems to be the standard regular price, in my area, these days. It was irksome that I had to go to effort to retrieve something that was mine in the first place. But, as I said, the customer service lady was so nice about this, and that's not always the case.

Have a nice evening, Linda!

Anonymous said...

I always make it a point to check my receipt IN the store, sometimes asking my husband to pull to the side before exiting. There were times we were charged for more items than we bought, and I was glad that we could easily go back to the cashier. Once we were charged for a pregnancy test kit, and that was one of those times I didn't check the receipt until I came home and was ready to log the receipt total on my receipt log. I called the store, and they said they will check their cameras to see what happened, called back and told me the item was for the customer before us, but that person changed her mind and the cashier didn't clear her register before checking us out.

Interesting, the many ways we can be incorrectly charged!!

Have a good evening!!


Lili said...

That would add up to a minimum of $25, up to $125 or so a year, for milk in the price difference. That's a lot of money, plus the hassle of having to go someplace else to buy it. I'm glad that Aldi sorted out their problem!

Lili said...

I usually check my receipt as I'm walking out the door. But I'm often so tired at that point, that checking the receipt doesn't catch all mistakes. Grocery shopping exhausts my mind and eyes (florescent lights are a killer for me). That's funny about the hoe pregnancy test that you were charged for. I'm assuming this was well past the years when your kids were small. Thank goodness grocery receipts itemize everything now. I do remembered when the receipt was just a list of prices, and no other identification to each item.

Have a great day, YHF!

share this post

Be a voice that helps another on their frugal living journey

Are you interested in contributing your ideas as a guest writer for creative savv?

Do you have a favorite frugal recipe, special insight, DIY project, or tips that could make frugal living more do-able for someone else?

Creative savv is seeking new voices.


enter your email below

Follow creative savv on Bloglovin'