Honesty in the Checkout Line

When a cashier rings up an item incorrectly do you inform him or her of the mistake?

The other day a cashier at the grocery store failed to ring up a few of my items. As she was wrestling with my reusable bags she accidentally moved a few items to the left of the register without scanning them. I knew I had a choice, I could let her continue ringing up items or I could inform her of the error. I decided to let her know.

The cashier was young and new on the job. When she initially greeted me in the checkout line she told me it was only her second day. I wanted to make her aware of the error so she wouldn’t do something similar in the future or get in trouble.

Sometimes I am certainly more honest than others. A few months back I waited forever in the checkout line at a Food Lion in North Carolina. The woman in front of me was paying with three different credit cards or debit cards or food stamps or something. In order to process the entire transaction all of the items had to be divided into $50 increments. It took forever for the cashier to figure out how to divide up the transactions and although the line continued to grow she never called a manager over to assist her.

Eventually I picked all of my items off of the conveyor belt, put them back into the cart and moved over to a different cashier. When that cashier forgot to ring up the reusable bags I purchased I didn’t say a word. I know the customer was primarily at fault for the failed transaction, but I was angry that the cashier didn’t call for help or inform us that it might be awhile. Even after I left the store the other customer was still trying to correct the transaction with that same cashier.

In the past I didn’t pay much attention to the register. Now that I do it seems that more often than not the mistake favors the store. I cannot tell you how many times a cashier has forgotten to take money off for my reusable bags or an item has rung up full price rather than on sale. It is certainly rare for a cashier to make a mistake in my favor. Still I wonder how often I catch the mistake and how often I actually inform the cashier. I consider myself to be an honest person, but I will admit that I do not always inform the cashier of the error.

4 thoughts on “Honesty in the Checkout Line”

  1. 95% of the time I do the right thing. I wish I could say that for the other 5%, but sometimes you just feel justified in sticking it to the man.

    My dad is the most honest, ethical man I know, so I always have that "what would daddy do" moment. And that reminds me to do the right thing.

  2. I don't believe in god and don't believe there is that sort of reason to be honest. Having said that, I believe VERY STRONGLY in doing the what YOU believe to be the right thing. You get one life. Each dishonest moment takes away from your belief that you are a good person who does the right thing. No free bag of potato chips or free jar of ragu is worth the loss of self realized from being dishonest.

    I think it falls back to that age old question that if no one ever found out about it would you steal, commit adultery, murder? The truth is that YOU would know you had done those things. There are always consequences to how you view yourself.

    Having said that, I am like Me in millions, but working on that 5% all the time. šŸ™‚

  3. How much is your honesty worth? A few cents…or dollars…or is it priceless?

    I try my darndest to point out errors. Often the cashier has to make up the error out of their own paycheck.


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