Money Monday: Are You Being Cheated at the Supermarket?

BY: - 25 Mar '13 | Money

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Everyone is trying to take our money, from credit card companies to cable providers. But did you know your local grocery store could be cheating you every time you pay for groceries?

According to a report by ABC’s Good Morning America, consumers lose up to $2.5 billion dollars every year as a result of scanner errors. The most common problems involve scanners that are not programmed with the correct sales price information, scales that weigh and charge for the packaging in addition to the food, and stores that charge tax on non-taxable items.

In California, the state even took the unusual step of suing Safeway and its Vons stores for frequently overcharging customers. Similarly, in Los Angeles, Ralph’s Grocery Co. agreed to pay more than $1.1 million in civil penalties, costs and restitution to settle allegations that it overcharged customers on deli and other weighed food products.

In New York City, inspectors visiting 2000 city stores found price overcharges on one third of the products they tested. The problem was so bad that New York City Consumer Affairs commissioner Jonathan Mintz considered proposing legislation which would require grocery stores to pay customers 10 times the amount of the overcharged item.

Unfortunately, supermarket overcharges aren’t always insignificant. I, for instance, once purchased frozen dinners at a major Chicago grocery chain. The sale price was 5 for $10. Instead, I was charged full price on all five frozen meals, creating an overcharge of nearly $11 dollars.

With scanner errors being relatively common, there are a few ways to protect yourself. Keep a mental running account of your grocery tab as you shop. Better yet, bring along a calculator or smartphone to tally your total. If your tab doesn’t come close to the cashier’s result then you know you have a problem.

Alternatively, watch the checkout register like a hawk as your items are checked out. When in doubt, always check your receipt before you leave the store. Remember, many stores offer a “right at the register or it’s free” policy. If you catch an overcharge you get the item for free.

BMWK — Do you take the time to check your supermarket receipts? If you catch an error do you challenge it or let it slide?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 247 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of MochaMoney.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.

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5 WordPress comments on “Money Monday: Are You Being Cheated at the Supermarket?

  1. SimpleighOrganized

    My grocery store offers a handheld scanner for shoppers to use. I use it to check the price of each item I place in my cart. If the price scans incorrectly with the scanner or at the register, the item is free. I have received MANY free items because of this policy. Sometimes the cashier will just try to correct the price until I remind them of the “free” policy. :)

  2. Pingback: Money Monday: Are You Being Cheated at the Supermarket? | Black … | efodedypi

  3. Funwith101

    2013?11?08?
    I brought a three lb bag of pumpkin in VH market in Memphis TN.I ended up weighing the product of Pumpkin that I purchased and what was on the bags weight was different then what I actually paid for. It was only 2 lb actually weight but labeled 3 lb.

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Money Monday: How To Make Your Kids Smart With Money

BY: - 1 Apr '13 | Money

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We want to raise kids who can effectively manage their money, avoid debt, and build a solid financial future, but it seems we’re failing in raising money smart kids.

A nationwide survey of first-year college students, conducted by the firm Inceptia, found that 89 percent of respondents scored the equivalent of a “C” or below when it came to financial literacy.

And unfortunately, they’re developing a false sense of confidence. Two thirds of students in the Inceptia survey indicated they felt confident about their ability to manage their own finances.

Yet, despite the dismal results, there is good news. It seems there are things parents can do to help their kids become financial superstars. One of the most important is teaching children about the power of goals.

As Inceptia discovered, those college students who set clear financial goals were more likely to exhibit sound financial behaviors. For example, 44% of students with financial goals reported that they tracked their spending, compared to only 22% who had no financial goals.

Similarly, only 13% of students without goals had created a budget for their academic year, while 45% of students with financial goals had created a budget for the year.

But here’s the kicker, the numbers were even more impressive for those students who actually wrote down their financial goals. This supports previous studies proving written goals are more effective than non-written. It seems the act of actually writing out a goal increases the chances of it being fulfilled, and in the case of the Inceptia study, also increased positive financial behavior.

While 45% of the surveyed students with financial goals created a budget, 70% of those who actually had written goals created a budget.

What does this mean for raising money smart kids? Actively thinking of and writing out financial goals could positively influence your child’s money management behavior.

Have your child write down their money goals, whether it be saving for a new bike or video game. Then help them write a plan for accomplishing their financial goals. In the process you’ll be teaching them a crucial skill they’ll need to to become financial superstars.

BMWK, do you create financial goals for yourself? Have you discussed the importance of goal-setting with your kids?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 247 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of MochaMoney.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.

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