Tag Archives: shopping

Check Your Receipt and Count Your Change

receiptThis is a story that makes me happy just to think about.

I was at a local Taco Bell the other day to buy lunch. The drive through line was pretty long, so I parked and walked inside. There was hardly anybody inside, and the small crew was working hard to fulfill the drive through orders to keep the traffic line moving.

The woman working the window soon noticed me standing at the counter, and took my order. After paying, I stepped to the side to wait for my order. As I stood watching the food preparations, another customer entered and stood at the counter. The lady at the window turned and asked if she could help him.

He told her he had just been in the drive through and she gave him the wrong change. He said that she had given him back all the money in change that he had given her to pay for his meal. So he parked and came in to pay for his meal.

The woman behind the counter did not initially get it, so the guy had to repeat himself that he wanted to pay the proper amount for his meal. The woman then understood, took his money, and smiled from ear to ear.

I spoke up to the person paying for his meal, and told him he had just made my day. He asked if I worked there, and I said, “Nope. But I am happy to meet an honest man.”

I hardly ever pay for things with cash anymore, credit cards are much easier, but when I used to pay with cash, I occasionally received the incorrect change and would have to correct the cashier. It seems like at least 50% of the time, the cashiers would err by giving me too much money in change. And almost every time they would be defensive about not making a mistake until I showed them that they gave me too much change and I was trying to give the extra money back.

I distinctly recall one instance in a grocery store where I gave a cashier $10 and expected around $6 in change. The cashier handed me $16 in change! The cashier had already moved on to the next customer when I stated that she had given me too much money. At first she looked annoyed until I explained that I had only given her a $10 bill, and not a $20, so I wanted her to take back the extra $10. As soon as she understood, she took the $10, smiled, and gave me a big “Thank You!”

I always check that I am charged what I expect at the store, laser scanners often make mistakes, and I always count my change if paying with cash.

Have you ever received excess change that you’ve given back?

Shopping at the Grocery Outlet, Bargain Market

grocery-outletMy wife does most of our weekly grocery shopping. She puts together a list of dinners that she would like to have during the coming week and builds her main grocery list from that. Lunches are usually made from dinner leftovers or sandwiches. Breakfasts are eggs, sausage, and fruit or cereal and fruit.

Some years ago we discovered that there was a Grocery Outlet, Bargain Market about a mile away from our house. There is also one just across the street from our local hospital, which I visit every week for blood tests. So I am now the designated Grocery Outlet shopper.

Their prices are typically 1/3 to 1/2 off what you would pay in a regular grocery store. So why don’t we do all our grocery shopping at the Grocery Outlet, Bargain Market? Mainly because they don’t carry every item that you might have on your shopping list.

Grocery Outlet is a western U.S. phenomena. There may be something similar in the east, but I am not aware of it. From their website,

How do we do it?

We source product opportunistically. Simply put, we buy brand name products directly from their manufacturers for pennies on the dollar. When a manufacturer has surplus inventory like excess packaging or manufacturing overruns they call Grocery Outlet first.

Here’s a true life example: a major cereal manufacturer partnered with the producers of Shrek and created promotional packaging for the movie’s release. After a great first run, Shrek went to DVD, however the manufacturer still had a lot of Shrek cereal boxes. So they filled them up with brand new product and sold it to us at a fraction of the original cost. Then we sold it to you at less than half of what you would have paid for the same product when the movie was in theaters. Same fantastic and fresh product at half the price.

I make a list of items we need, but the outlet often does not have everything on the list. They have a large selection of canned and dry goods, along with fruit juice, and frozen items. They do have some fresh fruit and vegetables, but you can never count on them having a particular item, such as bananas or carrots. I basically stock the canned portion of our pantry each week from the Grocery Outlet. I also pick up items like apple or grape juice and laundry detergent as needed.

Some tips on shopping from their website,

  • Stop by often. Our inventory changes constantly. Find out when your store receives product and plan a trip on those days.
  • When you find something you like, stock up. Many of our bargains are a one-time deal.
  • Sign up for email notifications (plus Facebook and Twitter). Sometimes we have special deals or in-store sales events, when the savings get really crazy. We always notify our email and social networking friends first when we do this.
  • Look for what you’re not looking for. Using a list is helpful for staying on budget, but many expert shoppers tell us they get some of their best deals by staying flexible and ready to act when they see a great bargain.

I have found that the above is mostly true. You do have to be willing to forego things on your list, and it sometimes pays to wander the aisles and just look at the various bargain items.