There’s a price on my head. But I have to check if that price is right or if I’m on special offer.
One of these days, I’ll be found in a bruised and lumpy heap in a supermarket aisle. Crazed customer service personnel will point and laugh and start hurling random grocery items at my bludgeoned and battered form. The most cruel among them will grab a wayward trolley and drive it over me. The real sadists will turn up the muzak and make me listen to it. I am fast becoming the bane of supermarket customer service departments.
I am, you see, on a crusade. And, worthy though I think it is, I can see where the customer service people are coming from. I’m a nuisance in their day. They hate me. They want to hurt me. They dive for cover when they see me coming.
It’s all to do with overcharging. A few months ago, I bought three big jars of coffee in one of the big supermarkets. They were on special offer and were very good value indeed. And my preferred brand to boot. They were stacked high to the ceiling in a display all by themselves with big mad signs saying just how great a bargain they were. And don’t we all love a bargain?
I pegged three of them into my trolley and carried on shopping. When I came through the checkout, I uncharacteristically checked the till receipt. I think I had a rough running total in my head and it didn’t seem to tally with what I had actually paid. I looked at the bottom of the receipt where the special offer deductions are usually shown and there was no sign of the saving on the coffee. I looked for the coffee in the listed items and there it was… at full price. A small mortgage. I headed for customer services. It was their error. They apologised and rectified it. No harm done.
But it made me examine my shopping habits. How often do I check my receipts? Not often. Sometimes. Well, hardly ever. Actually… never. Checkouts are usually busy; I’m generally trying to make the hateful process as quick as possible; I’m usually dreaming about winning the Lotto and getting a little minion to do the shopping for me. Bottom line: I pack and pay and get the flock outta there as quickly as possible.
But, after the coffee incident – which had added nearly €8 to my bill – I decided to be a bit more vigilant. I started scrutinising all my supermarket till receipts.
And here’s the alarming thing… almost every time I’ve grocery shopped since, something has been wrong. What’s more, the errors have always benefitted the shop. Special offers not being recognised; things scanning in at a different price to the shelf price; reduced-to-clear items with handwritten reductions scan in at full whack. That sort of thing. Almost every single time and across a range of supermarkets. I have resolved, therefore, for the New Year to always check the till receipt but, furthermore, to bring discrepancies – no matter how small – to the attention of the customer service personnel.
So that’s why they hate me. That’s why they want to maim me. Yesterday it was baked beans. Shelf price 54c; scanned in at 65c. Discrepancy of 11c. I had two tins. Overcharged by 22c.
Now 22c is not, I grant you, a fortune. It would, in fact, be easier to just forget about it and carry on. Taking the matter up with customer services is actually a ferocious palaver. You generally start losing the will to live about midway through the process. First of all, you go back to the shelf to make sure you’re right; then you join the queue at the desk; then they page a gofer-type to go and check the shelf themselves; then they page a manager to come and do some sort of important-looking whizzery with the till (it always seems to involve a key of some description and the word ‘void’ gets used a lot). Then they handwrite the adjustment on your old receipt; get you to sign a slip like you were signing out the crown jewels and then… they give you your 22c. They do all this with a face on them that would turn milk and you can feel their laser eyes boring into your back as you leave. They hate you. They want to maim you. They want to throw the tins of beans at your head and dance on your neck.
But they may get used to it because I’m not going away. I just don’t think it’s good enough and I’m going to be a thorn in their flesh until they start getting the message. I’m lucky – 22c is not going to break me but there are families out there on tight budgets and every cent counts. It adds up. A 22c overcharge on a small amount of shopping (my total on the day was just €28) represents less than one per cent – .785 of one per cent to be precise. But say your weekly grocery bill is, for argument’s sake, €150 – .785 of one per cent of that is €1.18. Over the year, it’s over €60. Imagine if you were overcharged by €60 on one shopping occasion. You’d raise the roof and bay for blood. It’s the same thing, folks, except it’s happening over time.
So they hate me. And they’re going to hate me even more before I’m finished because my next step is to annoy them about their overcharging policies. I’m not satisfied that refunding me the difference is always in accordance with what their policy states. For instance, some chains have a policy that if they overcharge you, they refund you the full price of the item; others double the difference; some give gift vouchers. I’ve had my overcharging experiences in four different supermarkets and have only ever received a refund of the overcharged amount. I’ll be getting on their case about that one soon.
In the meantime, I will continue to be loathed and despised. I will likely have to buy a flak jacket to absorb the impact of bean tins thrown with the great, venomous force of an annoyed customer services person.
They’re aiming to please? Er no. They’re aiming for me.
You have a nice day, now.