Friday, October 29, 2010

A Savvy Tip: See a Penny Pick It Up!

You may already be well aware that I am an obsessively frugal person ;-).  This week, as I walked through the Kmart parking lot I noticed a dull and weathered penny lying helplessly in the road.  Well, of course I scooped it right up!  Truthfully, I did scan the area to see if anyone was watching me do it first - hee hee.  After picking it up and walking through the store to scour the 75% off Halloween decor clearance I started thinking, (something I try to do often), why should I be ashamed to pick up this lost treasure from the ground.  A penny is a treasure you say?  Of course it is.  Now, I have no idea how many  pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters or dollar bills I've found in my life, but it all has value - even a penny.  And every penny counts!

That got me to thinking again, (Can you believe it? Twice in one day!), someone had to lose that penny and not even know it or even care enough to pick it up after it had fallen.  It had so little value to them that it wasn't guarded in their pocket or deemed worthy enough to retrieve.  Are there other times when a penny means so little that we don't bother to pick it up?  How about at the checkstand?  Now I'm not talking about literally picking up money from the floor at the checkstand, though I would do that too :-), I mean are you losing a penny here and a dime there by not watching your items as they are scanned to verify that sales prices are correct and that all your coupons are being entered properly?  Are you so busy that you assumed everything was right?  And if it's wrong - do you point it out immediately and ask for the correction, even if it's only a penny?  What if you've already checked out and are at your car before you notice the error?  Would you go back inside?

In my opinion the answer is - YOU SHOULD! Most of the time the error comes from the UPC code of the product being purchased.  And guess what, if it's the wrong price for you, it's scanning at the wrong price for everyone else as well!  That means stores could be overcharging hundreds of  thousands of customers nationwide (most likely unknowingly) and be "making" millions of dollars a year off of your pennies and everyone else's.  What should you do about it?  SPEAK UP!

Interestingly enough even the FTC has weighed in on this one and has a few great suggestions for spotting pricing errors at the register:
  • Watch the display screen for prices. If you think you’re being overcharged, speak up. Ask about the store’s policy on pricing errors, and ask the cashier to make the adjustment before you pay. Although some stores simply adjust the price, others deduct an additional amount. Still others offer the mispriced item for free. 
  • Bring a copy of the store’s flyer or newspaper ad to the checkout counter. Some advertised specials — 15 percent off an item for two hours, for example, or a two-for-one promotion — may not be in the computer and must be entered manually by the cashier. 
  • Consider jotting down prices or special sales as you wend your way through the store. In grocery stores, you may want to use a pen or crayon to note the product prices on the packages. 
  • Check your receipt before you walk away. If you notice an error, ask the cashier to adjust the total. If you’ve already left the cashier’s lane, see the store or department manager or the customer service department to correct any mistakes.
  • If you notice a pattern of electronic scanning errors in a particular store, talk to the customer service department or the store manager. You also may want to write a letter to the company’s headquarters. The retailer may not realize a problem exists until it’s pointed out.
Every penny does count so guard each one carefully and you'll find yourself ultimately saving more money and being in better financial control of your wallet!


  1. Yes, every penny does count. I'm in Ct and if an item rings up more than marked or advertised you get the item free. Recently a pkg of chicken was marked $2.99 but when I looked at my reciept at my the car I noticed it rang up $3.00. Yes, for a penny I went back inside to customer service with the chicken and reciept. Got my $3.00 back and FREE chicken.

  2. It's sort of embarrassing for me to speak up, but I do it (while my face flames red). I often find the problem at WalMart. And, while they are good to adjust the price for me, I don't think the item price is fixed for everyone else.

  3. I have had a problem with the electronic coupons coming off of my purchases at Smiths. The last two times I used them they didn't come off and I loaded them way in advance. Kind of makes me not want to use them anymore since they aren't working.

  4. Heather, contact Smith's Customer Loyalty dept. and they can fix that for you! 1(888)8-SMITHS


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