Jewish World Review Sept. 25, 2007 / 13 Tishrei 5768
Two beeps, one item: Listen for overcharges
By Vicki Lee Parker
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) If you are not checking your grocery receipts on a regular basis, you could be giving your local retailer extra cash. The culprit is technology.
At many checkouts, there are two scanners near the register. Sometimes an item can accidentally be scanned twice.
One way to avoid this is to listen. If you hear two beeps for one item, you are probably being charged twice.
Obviously, there is a similar problem with sales items that don't ring up at the advertised sales price.
If you find that you have been overcharged, most stores are willing to correct the problem.
Two grocers, Food Lion and Harris Teeter, will even give you the item or a similar product for free.
"Harris Teeter has a scan guarantee in place," said Jo Sorenson, spokeswoman for Harris Teeter. "If an item scans higher than the shelf tag or sign, customers will receive one like item free."
Karen Peterson, spokeswoman for Food Lion, said customers just need to bring the receipt in on their next visit.
Both stores say there is no time limit on when customers are allowed to get credit for incorrect scan. So whether you shop every two weeks or once a month, just keep the receipt until your next visit.
The only exception is alcohol and tobacco. You won't get those items replaced for free, but the stores will correct the overcharge.
Speaking of saving money, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee will vote Tuesday on moving the Consumer Overdraft Protection Fair Practices Act to the full House for consideration.
This bill would put a stop to some of the excessive fees that banks charge.
For example, the legislation would require that financial institutions warn customers when an ATM withdrawal will trigger a fee and allow them to cancel the transaction. It would also prohibit banks from manipulating the order in which checks clear - a practice that can increase customers' overdraft fees. It also would require that bank to get written consent before enrolling a customer in its overdraft loan program.
If you want to show support for this legislation, you can call your House representative and ask him or her to help pass this bill. Not sure who your representative is? You can visit (www.house.gov) and enter your ZIP code to find out.
Here's a word of caution for debit-card fans. Be aware of a growing trend, blocking, in which hotels, gas stations and other retailers put a hold on checking-account funds until the transaction is processed. This amount can sometimes be much higher than the original purchase and could result in insufficient-funds fees.
This month I wrote that one way to manage credit and avoid debt is to cancel credit cards that you no longer need.
Though this can be helpful for readers who can't resist charging items, several astute readers pointed out that canceling cards can also lower your credit score.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Vicki Lee Parker is a columnist for The News & Observer. Comment by clicking here.
Recalls: What to do next
© 2007, The News & Observer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services