Thursday, August 23, 2007

Supermarket Super savings-A word of Caution

We have hundreds of supermarkets in the city, each competing with each other by offering great discounts, free items. So when you buy something from there you should get whatever discount they have declared. But the question is will you actually get it?

What do you mean? Of course I get the discounts as promised when I buy and pay the bill…

Are you sure? Think again. I have observed and experienced several times that there’ll be small differences in what price and offer displayed at the rack and what amount is shown in the cash bill. This difference is pretty small indeed and no one will notice unless you cross check each item and amount carefully.

In other words, the displayed price doesn’t get mentioned in the cash bill and you will be paying more than what you thought you will pay for an item.

When you buy 10-20 items totaling say a thousand rupee, you may never notice that an item or two were billed 10-20 rupees extra than its listed price. Because there’ll be a big queue of people behind you at the billing counter, you may not have the time and patience to counter verify your items, bill and amount. So chances are that you might sometimes loose few extra rupees for no apparent reason.

Why does it happen?
*Probably the store’s computers are not updated with the latest prices that are quoted in the promos.
*Probably the counter executive accidentally entered wrong information (item/quantity)
*May be the software used did malfunction
*Or may be the counter executive intentionally made an attempt to take advantage of the situation and knowingly billed you extra

My experience in this regard:
1. Way back in 2004: Big Bazaar Bangalore: I bought a shirt which was tagged Rs 150, but I was billed at Rs 175. When I brought this to the notice of store rep, I was asked to contact the customer support cell, who offered me with a coupon which they said I can use within 7 days when I shop next time. I insisted on cash refund and it took 30 minutes to get that Rs 25 back.

2. Very recently, Trinetra Hyderabad (the outlet on Bombay highway between Tolichowki and Kondapur... Good day biscuits were being sold at a discount-but this discount was not reflected in my bill. I told the same to the billing lady, she said “sir that offers is not for cashew flavor sir but for some other one…” I went back to the rack, detached that sticker which had listed the discount (MRP Rs 12, Offer Price Rs 11.10) in front of the lady and then only she agreed to refund 2 rupees to me (I’d bought 2 packets)

3. Himalalya Book World, Panjagutta Hyderabad: I bought just one pencil (worth Rs 2) along with around 10 other items. After coming home I realized that bill mentioned a pack of pencil priced at Rs 20. There wasn’t much I could do to claim refund, except hoping that the store executives will refund. Nevertheless fuel expense of driving back to the store made it non viable.

What can I do if I’m cheated?
If you’re still within the premises, you can go back to the counter staff or store manager and tell him the mistake. 99.9% they will accept the error and offer to correct it. If it is the manager he will blame the billing staff for wrong entry and if it is the billing staff that you approached, he/she will blame the computer and the software inside (poor computers and software have no one to blame…). But they will usually rectify it on the spot, because your point is valid and there’ll be other customers watching.

If you realize this fraud after coming home, just try to forget it. Most of the time the extra amount paid will be very less and going back to the shop all the way won’t be worth it. Also, even if you go back there’ll be no physical evidence in most of the cases to prove that you are right and they are wrong

How to avoid this?
1. Calculate the total amount of the items you have purchased yourself (Calculator in your mobile will be handy)
2. Keep in mind the total bill amount
3. If the counter executive tells a higher amount, step aside and cross check items and amount one by one.
4. Better still, try this: As you approach the billing counter, declare the expected bill amount “346 Rupees 60 paisa”. The counter executive will get the message that if the amount exceeds one rupee more than that you are likely to cross check, and chances of cheap cheating will be less.
5. If the billing executive winks or smiles at his/her colleague while you’re making the payment, chances are that he/she is celebrating the success of cheating you. Be sure to check again.
6. Not only in supermarkets, but in hotels and other places as well little caution will save some money.

You may not face this loss all the time at all places. Since money saved is money earned, try to be careful.


hari said...

You're right. It's usually not worth fighting over if you've found out too late. I don't think all of us can go around with a calculator whenever we go shopping though :-P

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Whoa! I never knew or noticed this one. I suppose it is more common in India than the US, but will nevertheless be careful when I buy stuff next time at WalMart or elsewhere. You've got a good eye, Shrinidhi!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hari: all mobiles have calculators...It is simple addition afterall which can be done even without a calci...

Sudipta: Thanks...Trust me, even your wallmart billing systems might developed and maintained by Indians only.... you never know

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Comments received for this post at

ponds186 said:
Aug 24, 2007 09:28 AM

True. I can donate a 1000 rupees under section 80G, but i make a scene even if there is a 50p issue with my billing.
I have embarrased quite a few people (Including my family members) by fighting with the billing chap when he decides to writeoff small change.

I remember in the Shoe mart of whatever in one of Pantaloons outlet & in Food Bazaar, i had managed to waste almost 20 mins of my time, the billing chaps time and other customers time when the billing guy did not return me 50p as he had no change. He had 1 Re change, but what pissed me off was his qn ’’Whats the big deal with 50p’’ and he was not willing to foego that 50p in my favor.

It is we consumers who should make a hue and cry. 50p is worthless, but still it is your hard earned money.


Chintu25 said:
Aug 24, 2007 02:48 PM


Thats a very informative review...a day or two back i was reading a review on Reliance Fresh and the reviewer had faced similar scene there...he was told that the system is not updated..
I can vouch that when we are shopping in such big establishments after a point of time we loose our control and end up doing impulse shopping and in the meanwhile we loose focu of how much we have spent & with a big qeue in front of us we don’t bother to cross check the bill also....and these super marts are taking the fayda out of this only...
Anyways that was a great review...
rohitthebest said:
Aug 24, 2007 04:56 PM

True Boss.
We bought a Denim Skirt for my wife from Hyd Central - with a tag 500/- under a scheme buy two and get one free. Same item was billed 575/- - when i noticed it after billing had been done and payment made thru debit card - they offered me a coupon which was valid for 6 months - I told them that I dont belong to Hyd and will never come back here to encash it and have got nothing to buy today of that amount - it took them good one hour to solve the issue and give me 100/- back in cash - i did it deliberately to teach them a lesson.
Very next week we went back and exchanged the skirt too ;) and the guy recognized me and said nothing as he got my point very well on that day itself.
Editenidhi said:
Aug 24, 2007 05:35 PM

Thanks all of you for the comments...

Their luck lies in customers not suspecting anything...even if they get 10-20 people to cheat per day they can get good amount of free money...
alk_ranjan said:
Aug 24, 2007 08:03 PM

the easiest way out!!

keep a calci handy next time when you go shopping and hand it over to the cash counter while final billing to tally!!

ha ha ha i am seriously thinking about doing this next time i shop
nair.vidu said:
Aug 24, 2007 08:46 PM

Ur review is very very informative, i never knew Big Bazaar people used to do this kinda cheating,although it wasn’t that i never expected too..lols..coz wen these people started the offer where we cud get discount coupons on anything outdated, i actually realised that the cutomer got only a 20% benefit and the rest 80% was theirs. Stupid people!

Editenidhi said:
Aug 25, 2007 09:31 AM

Niranjan... is always recommended that you do the totalling yourself.

Vidu: We need to understand the basic interest: Their interest lies in making people come to their shop and buy from them and not in giving all discounts to customers and go bankrupt...
jaideepkhanduja said:
Aug 25, 2007 09:37 AM

yep i agree! usually when ur list of items is long, it is very difficult to hang around there and then and tally with what is committed and what is printed in the bill!

i have a bad experience of 90% of times the bill had one minor mistake(s) or the other for which i had to go back to customer care by unnessary driving down and then again after this bill issue get resolved, we have another long bill to pay as one thinks that since we are already there, let us buy something (or sometimes the offers are attractive)

i had a similar experience of refund (although that was a small amoun of some Rs 150 or so) and they insisted on a coupon that can be used in next 7 days! only when i convinced them that it is ur mistake in the bill and i have no more purchases to make in next 7 days, they gave me cash. (before that they tried their best to convince me back to buy anything for this amount there and then only)

the reason for not prefering cash is that in that case they have to fill a form where the reason of refund if to be given by the customer, and those forms go to higher ups and analyzed.

Editenidhi said:
Aug 27, 2007 11:03 AM


Thanks for the comment. yes, probablity of getting cheated is directly proportional to number of items you have in cart and number of customers at the billing counter...

Many people buy goods not because they need the item but because of the temptation created by the offer..
freakydipu said:
Aug 27, 2007 02:50 PM

I have stopped going to big bazaar..... they sell non-branded product and thug consumers

enidhi said:
Aug 27, 2007 04:22 PM


branded or non branded should not be a concern if quality and pricing are not compromised, which I doubt...

Dileep said...

Cool... that is nice Srini,
One more point to add for this BIG shopping’s in bazaars, these guys will keep only the items which can give more profit for them, that means one who can give more margins their products will easily get into bazaar.
Now think which product owner will give big margin to shop owner? Obviously either a new comer to the market or the person who's product is really junk. So now what? We will end up in eating the food which made shop owner rich but our health in ditch!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes Dileep, all they do is get the items from suppliers and sell in their malls for a margin.

Quality issues often go unnoticed under the hype of cost advantage....

Ashwin said...


I never noticed all these When i went to supermarkets

Thanks man U rock!

Shrinidhi Hande said...


Thanks. Ya, be more careful next time you visit a supermarket.

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