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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mistakes at the grocery cash register

When you're checking out at the grocery store, are you paying attention to the small display screen that informs you of your purchase and its price?  Things go wrong from time to time. Mistakes can be made when new sale prices are entered into the main computer system. This happens quite a lot actually. If you pay attention to the shelf tag when selecting your items, then watch the checkout display, you'll likely catch an error as it's being made.

In addition to wrong prices, the scales for weighing produce and bulk items can give you a wrong weight.  No, I'm not suggesting that the scales are faultily calibrated.  Let me tell you what happened to me earlier this week.

I was at the store, just needing a few items, so I was carrying around a basket, not pushing a cart. Among the items I bought, were 2 bags of bulk nuts(the type of thing where you fill a bag as much as you want to buy).  I had particular amounts of each that I wanted, so weighed them both in the bulk section. At the checkout, I didn't unload my basket, but placed the filled basket on the conveyor belt. The cashier tipped the basket on its side so she could access the contents and scan easily.  The basket was partially resting on the edge of the scale.  When she weighed my 2 bags of nuts, the weight was far more than I knew I had scooped into each bag, about 1/2 lb. more each.  With the price of nuts, this is a substantial amount of $, several dollars more than what my total should've been.  Fortunately, I had weighed each bag and knew myself roughly what it should have cost. I spoke up.  At first she was reluctant to reweigh the items, but I just asked her to humor me and please reweigh the items, this time with the basket out of the way.  She did, and was surprised that such an error could have been made.

Had I not weighed the items myself in the bulk section, had I not been paying attention at the cash register and had I not spoken up, this quick stop at the grocery store would've cost me $6 more than it should.  Being alert at the checkout is not always an easy thing for me.  I'm tired after doing my shopping.  My brain wants to remain on pause for a few minutes.  And I'm in a hurry to get the errand out of the way. One little trick I use, is while I'm waiting in line, I do a quick mental calculation of roughly how much my total should be.  When my total dollar amount is on the display, I check to see if I was in the ball park.


  1. Grace (Lili's daughter)May 26, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    Very smart thinking! Out of curiosity, did you get the nuts free?

  2. Hi, again, Grace. It pays to do your homework. In my case that was roughly figuring in my head what my groceries should cost. In your case, you know what could happen if you don't do yours. If you have done the preparation for a thing, then you have a good chance of succeeding. If you have not prepared, then you have no chance at all.
    And no, unfortunately that store doesn't have the "free if we get it wrong" policy. No free nuts.


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