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Is It Always Worth It To Go Back And Complain?

by Mike

How closely do you pay attention to the cashier at your local supermarket? Do you check your receipt to make sure you’re not being overcharged?

Sunday evening I ran to Shoprite to pick up a couple of things. While I was trying to explain to my daughter that no she can’t have the giant, overpriced Blue’s Clues balloon I was overcharged for 2 bags of cheesy popcorn.

They were supposed to be on sale for 2 for $3, which would be $1.50 each. But when I got home I scanned the receipt and they had rung up at the full price of $2.99 a bag. Because I was distracted with my daughter I was overcharged $2.98.

Now…what to do?

My wife said I should go back and complain and get my money back. But is it really worth it? Let’s let some basic math decide for us.

The Shoprite I went to is about 6 miles from my house. My wife’s minivan gets about 18 miles per gallon in city driving, so the 12 mile trip to Shoprite and back would burn about 2/3 of a gallon of fuel. At $2.58 per gallon (which is what I paid to fuel up this morning) that little trip would cost me $1.72 in fuel costs.

It would cost me $1.72 to get back my $2.98 so in reality I’d only be ahead $1.26.

If you want to get technical you could factor in wear and tear on the car too. Twelve miles is pretty insignificant in the long run but for laughs let’s work in the cost of an oil change.

If I get the oil changed every 3000 miles and it costs me $26 at the local garage, each mile driven costs $0.0086.

26 / 3000 = 0.0086

Multiply that number by 12 miles driven and it adds a little over 10 cents to the trip. Now it’s actually costing me $1.82 to get my $2.98 refund. I’d end up ahead a measly $1.16.

Is it worth it?

What about the time I’d waste trying to get my refund? I figure it would take me about 30 minutes to drive to Shoprite, park, walk inside, stand on line, explain what happened, get my refund and drive home. Thirty minutes for $1.16.

That’s an hourly rate of just $2.32. If someone offered you a job for $2.32 an hour you’d probably laugh in their face yet you’ll gladly give up your time for the same amount?

My time is valuable to me. I’d rather take that half an hour and write a post for this blog, or work on another site that can earn me far more than $1.16. Or I can take those 30 minutes and spend it doing something fun with my family. Or reading and learning something new. Or pretty much anything other than stand on line in Shoprite.

Yes, I know if I had been paying closer attention in the first place I would have spotted the mistake and had it corrected immediately. But I’ll accept the small loss in exchange for teaching my daughter a small lesson about the difference between “wants” and “needs.” Plus it gave me material for this post…so it wasn’t all bad.

PS – I do realize I could ask for my refund on my next trip to Shoprite but we don’t usually shop there. It’s an inconvenient location and I only stopped there because it was on the way home that evening.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs. Money

I agree- sometimes it doesn’t make sense to go back and complain. Sometimes our time is worth more than the money itself. :)
.-= Mrs. Money´s last blog ..Is Phantom Electricity Draining your Bank Account? =-.

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Mike

I agree. Most of the time I think you should complain about poor service but you’ve got to draw the line and realize that your time could be spent doing more important things. Thanks for stopping by.

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fern

A simple word of advice: always check your grocery store receipt BEFORE you leave the store; then you pay no more than you should, and you don’t have to worry about gas, etc.

Reply

Mike

Hi fern, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree with you completely, unfortunately I got distracted and it cost me.

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