Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Honesty - The Best Policy ?

I'm just back from shopping at my local Sainsburys and I could have been £20 better off - and I totally blame my mum and dad. Even though they're not alive anymore ! Confused ? Then read on.

You see they brought me up to be truthful and honest and as a result, I've never done a dishonest thing in my life.

Ok that bit was a lie but apart from that, I've never done a dishonest thing in my life. Mostly.

So lemme explain. I went down the electronics aisle in the store and a little gizmo took my eye. It was one of those wireless FM transmitters that allows you to play your mp3 through the car speakers. Now I've had a corded version of this gizmo for several years and as it's currently stored in a drawer somewhere, you'd be right in thinking it wasn't much cop. It wasn't. Lots of wires make it a pain to set up but it was mostly crap as radio music would bleed over the mp3 music from time to time as you drove along and so it was basically a waste of money.

The one I saw today had no wires at all and did things differently so reducing the chance of radio bleed. Best of all, it was only £9.99 and so into the shopping cart it went as my impulse buy of the week.

When I got to the checkout, the bill came to £41. WHAT ? I said that a bit loud at the time too.

Well I'd only bought a few items as I'm leaving the country in a couple of weeks so I didn't need much. Then I remembered my £9.99 gizmo and thought that had to be why my bill was so high. Thankfully I said this out loud as well and the cashier heard me and said....."no actually, it was probably the £19.99 gizmo".

"WHAT ?" I know. I must stop talking in capitals at checkouts.

Now to cut the next 5 minutes short, I got her to scan it again and when it came up at £19.99 again I told her to take it off my bill. She did this and after paying £21 for my few groceries, I left the checkout.

I decided to return to the electronics aisle to check the price label as my thought was that the '1' part of the price was hidden and this needed to be fixed so another punter wouldn't make the same mistake. But when I looked closely at it, there was a £ sign in front of the 9 and so it was definitely priced at £9.99. I told this to the electronics guy and after he'd scanned another gizmo to prove the point, he agreed the price on display was wrong and said....sorry.

"Whoa there big guy" I said. Well it was something like that anyway. "The price label may be wrong but it's YOUR mistake and not mine so I would like the gizmo for £9.99 please". Once this Sainsburys drone had told me there was nothing he could do about it, I took the gizmo to the customer services desk and told my story. The woman scanned it to get the £19.99 price and then went off to see the label - which I'd told the drone not to touch on pain of lots of pain.

CS lady came back and agreed the price label was incorrect, the fault was theirs and I could have the gizmo for £9.99. Result.

Then the result became even more of a result when she gave me a £10 note ! Eh ?

Well she obviously thought I'd paid for it at the £19.99 price back at the checkout and so was refunding me the difference. This was clearly her mistake as not only had I told her several times that I'd had the gizmo taken off my bill, but she also had the till receipt in her hand and it clearly showed this to be the case.

Not only had I got the gizmo for free, but I was £10 up on the deal. This never happens to me. I pushed my cart out of the store as if the wheels were on fire but when I got to my car, the heavy guilt set in. I almost heard the voices of my mum and dad telling me that what I'd done, while not exactly dishonest, just wasn't right.

Reminding them that they were dead and I could really do with this unexpected money did little to overcome my feelings of guilt. It didn't do much for the passing shoppers either who were by now giving me a wide berth as I was looking skywards and talking to myself.

And so I went back into the store and back to the CS desk where the poor lady still hadn't worked out that she'd made a boo-boo. She actually asked me if everything was ok ??!!!!

Having explained what she'd done, she went red in the face and thanked me for being such an honest chap. In fact she thanked me so many times that I was going red in the face as by now everyone around the desk knew the story.

I handed back the £10 and handed over my credit card to pay the £9.99. I was £20 down on the deal but at least it was now an honest transaction and I can sleep tonight. Hmmmmm.

But before you offer me up for canonisation (or idiot of the week award) part of my thinking was that they had kept my original receipt. The one that clearly showed that the gizmo had been removed from the bill. They could've traced me from that receipt (maybe) and I couldn't have stood the shame of being asked to repay the £20 on my next visit.....even if that will be in May next year !

How much did THAT affect my decision ? I donno. But I'd like to think it was a decision based mostly on my upbringing and I'm going with that.

Mum & Dad..I know you did a good job on me but could you not have told me that once in a while it's ok to never look a gift horse in the mouth !! Or a free gizmo.


ruth said...

Congratulations on your honesty. I hope the gizmo proves worth it. If it doesn't and you take it back they might scan it and try to refund you £19.99 to test your honesty even further.

Silverback said...

That thought had occurred to me too, Ruth.

Lets just say I'm keeping all the packaging on this one.

Daphne said...

You did the right thing, of course. But it's vaguely annoying that some people would agonise over doing the right thing in a relatively trivial situation like this - - and others don't seem to have any conscience even over much bigger things.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Honesty is certainly the best policy and in my experience it is a very useful guiding principle. Dishonest acts cheapen one's life and fill one's mind with niggling feelings of guilt. Well done for going back to Customer Services. this was unquestionably the right thing to do.

Debby said...

Pah, you'll never be able to steal cheese.

Punctuation said...

Sadly an incorrect price tag is not a binding contract - it's what known as an "invitation to treat". It's only binding if they take your money after you give it to them. For example: they wrongly ring up 1 pence for a TV instead of 100 pounds and you pay them in good faith and they accept your payment:- tough, the goods are yours.

Most people cry "false advertising" and "dishonesty" but, in fact, if it's in good faith there's no obligation for a refund or further payment (depending on who came out on top of the deal).


Silverback said...

Deb, I'm working up to your cheeze level. Small steps.

Ian, I worked for ASDA for 25 yrs so know the score but now I'm a customer (and it wasn't ASDA) I enjoy making the most of store's customer service policies whenever I can !

Thanks for the comments Daffy & YP.

rhymeswithplague said...

I have a similar story about the Post Office (wherein I am the hero), but it is too long to go into here.

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