Beware of the sting in the till

I HATE to think how many thousands of words I read every day. The ones in stories for the paper I don t mind a bit. It s the one in all the rubbish press releases and emails I have to sift through which rankle me. It is an occupational hazard, so the burd

I HATE to think how many thousands of words I read every day.

The ones in stories for the paper I don't mind a bit. It's the one in all the rubbish press releases and emails I have to sift through which rankle me.

It is an occupational hazard, so the burden is much eased at the weekends when I am not in work.

But reading is still important in leisure time, and that was reinforced to me last Saturday. The lesson I learned may be of use to others.


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On the day in question I became the owner of an executive chair. At least I did on paper.

The big weekly shop at our usual supermarket inevitably ends with a trolley load of items which have been packed into bags as rapidly as one can in a race to keep up with them coming through the check-out. Whether one wins or not depends on the speed - or slowness - of the assistant at the till passing the goods over the beeping machine.

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.With a quick one, there is no time to also keep an eye on each item as it is fleetingly displayed on the screen, so lately we have getting into the habit of scanning through the receipt while walking out of the store.

We were distracted on Saturday and so did not peruse the long slip of paper until we were sat in the car with everything packed in the boot and about to set off for home.

That's when we learned that we had purchased an executive chair for �20. The only trouble was, it was the first we knew of it. There was no such chair about to be transported to the Adams household.

So we traipsed back into the store and got in line at the customer service desk. There we had to explain what had happened and ask for our money back. I thought there was the suggestion of a quizzical look - perhaps wondering how something had been registered at the till if it did not go through - but store staff admitted that they sometimes have problems with items being charged incorrectly.

A young lady helpfully told us that only recently a customer had been charged �147 for a piece of broccoli. Not surprisingly, the person noticed and queried this and when the vegetable item was put through again it came up with the right price. It was just one of those gremlin things which could never be explained. That seemed to be the attitude in store.

I wonder how many people have paid for phantom executive chairs without realising it.

So my advice is, if nothing else, read your shop receipts. It could save you money.

The potential for being caught out is enormous with all the shopping we do. New research shows that Brits will spend 155 days of their lives queuing while on shopping trips, equivalent to 47 hours a year or 55 minutes a week. This, not surprisingly, is the most irritating part of their high street shopping experience. Perhaps apart from being mis-charged.

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