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Charged too much, how do I get my money back?
October 29, 2008 4:01 AM   Subscribe

Charged too much for my supermarket sandwich, what should I do?

The other night I stopped at a late-night supermarket to get some shopping on the way home. I paid for my groceries using my debit card, then went to the sandwich kiosk behind the checkouts, as I was hungry.

I didn't have any cash so I paid for my sandwich (about £2.50) using my chip & PIN Visa debit card. It was late and I was hungry so I didn't pay too much attention to the details of the transaction.

Cut to today when I checked my online bank statement, I find two charges from that particular supermarket, one for about £23 (about right for my groceries) and one for £22.50 (which I presume was a mistake in the sandwich transaction).

What are my options? I think I might still have the receipt for the sandwich. I am blaming myself as I didn't pay attention to the amount before entering my PIN, but can I get the supermarket to remedy the error after the fact?

This is in the UK, if it weren't obvious from the way I write and the £ signs.
posted by altolinguistic to Shopping (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I am reasonably sure the supermarket (especially if it's a major one) will be happy to listen to the story and resolve the situation, even if they can't do it on the spot. If it's a small, independent retailer, you may need to get the bank involved.

In any case, this is clearly an "error" on their part. They've tapped two zeroes instead of one, and it's gone to £22.50 (most tills take the price in pennies, rather than making the operator tap out the decimal point). If you have the receipt, it shoudln't be hard to solve - without it, you might need to bang the desk a bit harder ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 4:09 AM on October 29, 2008


Go see the manager and calmly explain the situation to him or her in pretty much the same manner as you explained it to us. Bring along a print out of your bank statement and, if you do actually still have it, the receipt.

Tell them you're even willing to just be refunded just the difference since you accept that you didn't check the receipt properly at the time you bought the sandwich (and actually say that; a little humility on your part might go a long way in this instance). Just don't accuse them of trying to rip you off or anything. No one likes to be told they're doing that. In short, be totally non-accusatory. You don't want to put the manager on the defensive. Yet.

If that dosen't work, say you want to see their boss and repeat the previous step. And if that dosen't work, that's when you threaten to write to the head of the company, to bring in consumer affairs or involve the local media.

And if all of that dosen't work, take your lumps and accept that you could have avoided this on the night, despite being tired and hungry, and learn your lesson so it never happens again.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:17 AM on October 29, 2008


F it. Same thing happened to me - more or less. Trust. You can't fight it. And if you try to? It will cost you MORE in energy expendure than the whatever amount they overcharged you. Figure you owed the Universe x amount and that x amount was collected. End of story. Enjoy the sandwhich righteously cool. They fd up? Could be - whatever. Allow the process to unfold. It's a TEST. Don't let it get to you. Do NOT. It's a complete waste of energy and you could be tiptoeing through the daisies or strumming your guitar or blissing out on a mountain top instead. And that's what you need to be doing. Allow the universe to figure out these things. You owed. You paid.
posted by watercarrier at 6:07 AM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the store uses the common debit machine separate from register setup, then the till would have been over at the end of the day and it will be easy to claim your money. That's assuming they didn't make the same mistake twice, or do it on purpose and pocket your 'cash back.'
posted by Who_Am_I at 6:24 AM on October 29, 2008


I'm not sure about practices in the UK, but can't you speak with a customer service rep at your bank and make a claim that you were overcharged (unintentionally, of course) and ask them to investigate and recoup the difference? This is pretty standard practice in the US upon authorized charges or even in the case of overcharges.
posted by Asherah at 6:24 AM on October 29, 2008


You can't fight it. And if you try to? It will cost you MORE in energy expendure than the whatever amount they overcharged you.

Really? I've been overcharged in grocery stores a couple of times. All you do is go to the customer service desk, and they apologize and give you money back. It takes about two minutes, and you do it the next time you are there for your shopping anyway, so it doesn't take any time out of your busy day.

The exception to this might be in a place where the store has to deal with a lot of scam artists -- then they might be much less willing to do refunds. But the errors are usually clearly errors (like $22.50 for a sandwich), so it's not like you are trying to pull something over on them.
posted by Forktine at 6:24 AM on October 29, 2008


My rule is anything over 10 bucks is worth fighting over. Anything under - totally not worth my energy. Energy is everything. It sucks. I fumed and I cursed and I threatened. Then realized f this shit. I'm not going to get a heart attack over this. My principle in this case is worth nothing and them getting this advantage is the way it needs to play out. Right on. I'm getting it. OK. So let it be. And so it was. And that's the end of that. And that 10 bucks will or will nto surface again in my life and if it does - a blessing (thank you!) and if it doesn't (thank you!) and that's all I have to say about that.
posted by watercarrier at 6:31 AM on October 29, 2008


My rule is anything over 10 bucks is worth fighting over. Anything under - totally not worth my energy.

Somewhat understandable, except that in this case altolinguistic was charged £20 sterling extra which is about $32 US. That's an extremely expensive sandwich.

I would absolutely go to customer services the next time you're in the shop. If you do have the receipt I can't see them arguing. Your business is worth more to them - they'll just refund your card for that amount.
posted by unbearablylight at 6:52 AM on October 29, 2008


My rule is anything over 10 bucks is worth fighting over. Anything under - totally not worth my energy.

Well, 20 pounds is more than 10 bucks so I'd say this is worth fighting for, even by your criteria. I also think there's a principle in the thing that's bigger than the money involved. To that end, at least let someone in charge know what happened, even if you decide not to pursue it any further.

When I see something like this hit my bank account I will usually wait a day or two to see what happens when the charge clears. I've been seemingly double or triple charged when buying something using my check card (credit transaction), and then when the charge actually cleared, I was only charged once. I don't know if this works the same with a debit/PIN transaction, though.
posted by cabingirl at 6:57 AM on October 29, 2008


Yeah 20 pounds - how much that is in euro - if it's over 10 bucks - state your case. But totally dont get consumed by it. Play it cool but firm. Let the paper speak for itself. They can't argue with their own receipt. Make a copy of it btw. Heh. It's always good to preserve the ol paper trail because you never know when you'll be needing *the proof* again.

Good luck.
posted by watercarrier at 7:06 AM on October 29, 2008


That's one expensive sandwich. I'm sure the grocer's will understand, it happens.

I'd go back.
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:17 AM on October 29, 2008


In my experience on both sides of this, if it's a big chain, you probably won't find it particularly difficult to get your money back. All you need to do is explain the situation to customer services (probably then followed by the manager), preferably whilst armed with receipts. They don't want to fight over £20. Not sure how easy it will be in a small store.
posted by Jakey at 7:25 AM on October 29, 2008


This happened to me in the US ... I was charged $77 for a burrito once! (It was really good, but not THAT good!)

Definitely talk to the management about this. Hopefully they will be happy to resolve it, as it's probably worth the potential loss of £22.50 to keep you happy as a customer. If not, can your bank do a chargeback? I know that this is a possibility even with debit cards in the US, but I'm not sure if things are different by you.
posted by tastybrains at 8:28 AM on October 29, 2008


I'm just going to agree with and repeat what everyone else has already said (the more people who way it the more persuasive it is right?).

First things first. Go back to the store and talk to customer service. Bring whatever receipts/statements you have. Calmly explain what you think happened. Be pleasant. Ask them if they can fix the problem. At this point they should quite happily and apologetically refund your money to your card.

If for whatever reason they don't give you your money back, then ask another AskMe and everyone can work out ways to get you your money back.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:10 AM on October 29, 2008


I didn't have any cash so I paid for my sandwich (about £2.50)


Cut to today when I checked my online bank statement, I find two charges from that particular supermarket, one for about £23 (about right for my groceries) and one for £22.50 (which I presume was a mistake in the sandwich transaction)


What I gather from these two statements may get in your way. It doesn't sound like you have an actual receipt that says the price of the sandwich and then the price you paid.

You also readily admit that your regular grocery bill is around £23, so the transaction record could be showing something else quite easily, no?

That, and any debit/cash I've ever used, would have told the cashier right away after your payment went through that the amount was two much. They would have to give you a difference in cash otherwise it would not balance.

If you don't have a specific receipt, I think you're SOL, even if you are right.
posted by sunshinesky at 9:28 AM on October 29, 2008


If you don't get satisfaction at the supermarket itself, it wouldn't hurt to write a letter to their corporate office to explain the situation. (A paper letter sent through the post, not email.) Explain the situation succintly and without rancor. If you have a receipt, include a copy. My experience has been that 99% of the time (if not 100% - offhand I can't think of a time it failed me) that the company will consider you more of a "serious" customer if you take the time to actually take the time to describe the situation on paper and spend the price of a postage stamp and will resolve the problem in your favor in order to maintain your good will.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:30 AM on October 29, 2008


Thanks all - I'll try going there and explaining the situation calmly.
posted by altolinguistic at 2:43 AM on October 30, 2008


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