I’ve known Ben since 1969. In fact, I have it on the best authority that he attended my third birthday party that year. Ben has always been consistent. I could always rely on him to be loyal, genuine and completely scatterbrained at times.
Once, when he was about nineteen years old, Ben’s parents ordered pizzas (from Calitri’s on Route 1 in Danvers, Massachusetts) and sent Ben to pick them up. Ben was focused on his task and dutifully drove the eight miles to Calitri’s, paid for three pizzas, went back to his car and drove home. When he got home, he walked into his house and sat down to watch TV. After sharing quizzical looks for about 30 seconds, his parents and sister asked about the pizza. Ben looked very confused and could not answer their questions.
This was somewhat typical of Ben so Ben and his Dad drove back to Calitri’s and solved the problem. The pizzas were located scattered about 100 yards down the highway from the restaurant. Ben and his Dad deduced that Ben had put the pizzas on the roof of his car in order to unlock the door and had forgotten them when he drove off. What could Ben’s Dad do but laugh? Of course, none of Ben’s friends have forgotten that story and so he is reminded of it regularly.
My point is not to poke fun at an old friend, but to note that we all make mistakes. We forget to bring things to the office or we forget to pick up laundry on the way home. Sometimes, however, other people make mistakes and it can cost us money or convey a benefit to us that we really should not be receiving.
For example, last week I went to the grocery store and purchased about $150 worth of groceries. When I got home, I found that there was a tooth brush that I had not purchased bagged with all of my other groceries. The tooth brush was priced $3.69 and probably was part of a different person’s grocery bill, but inadvertently placed in my bag.
I thought about keeping the tooth brush. A return trip to the grocery store would take about a half hour and I did not think I could convey to the customer service department what had happened if I called on the phone. Nevertheless, I realized that the person who had purchased the tooth brush would probably go back to the store looking for it and I did not want that person to be out $3.69 because of an error made by a teenage bagger.
My experience with the tooth brush got me thinking about the ways that we can gain and lose value due to bagger and cashier mistakes, and at what threshold we stop overlooking the error. Here is how I answered my questions but I hope you will also tell me how you would answer them.
Cashier Gives Me Too Much Change: This is an easy issue for me. Whenever a cashier gives me too much change, I immediately return the excess and point out the error in his or her calculation. I know that if the cashier gives me $5 too much, the cashier will be accountable for that at the end of the night, and if the cashier makes a lot of mistakes, he or she may be accused of theft. I would hate to contribute to a cashier losing his or her position just so that I can pocket money to which I am not entitled.
Cashier Short Changes Me: I think we are all likely to be in agreement on this point. If a cashier fails to give me sufficient change, I politely require it. There is no shock in that, but I mention it here in the interest of covering all of my topics.
Bagger Fails to Bag an Item: I hate it when I go to a store and everything I purchase does not make it into the bag. When all of my items are not apparent when I get home, I immediately check my receipt to determine whether the item was actually purchased. I have been known to forget things so I don’t automatically assume that I purchased an item that is missing. After I confirm that I did purchase the missing item, I either decide that it is not worth the hassle or I decide to go back to the store to retrieve it. Usually I will walk away from anything that is priced under $3 unless it is something that I need immediately. If I decide to go back for the item, I ask my wife to call the store to let them know that I am on my way back to retrieve it, receipt in hand. I have my wife make the call so that I will have a better chance of getting back to the store before the item is put back on the shelf.
Bagger Gives Me Someone Else’s Purchase: I generally try to return an item that is not rightfully mine. I just don’t want the bad karma that comes from keeping another person’s purchases. If the item cost less than $1, I might wait until the next day to return it, but otherwise I will try to go back to the store right away.
What are your standards when you receive “bonuses” from cashiers and baggers or when they fail to give you everything to which you are entitled? Do you keep the extras? What is your threshold for not caring about something that a bagger forgets?