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Caveat emptor – buyer beware. Always examine your purchases and your receipts carefully.

Caveat emptor is Latin for “let the buyer beware.” Most of us are careful to examine our goods prior to purchasing them. At least I am. I won’t buy a box of food at the store that’s been case cut or a package that looks wrinkled. Creepy crawlies can easily enter through a slash in a package, and wrinkled bags of are often indicators of water damage.

The quality of your purchases isn’t the only thing you should watch, though. It’s always a good idea to check your receipts. You should also pay attention to how things are ringing up when you’re at the cash register. I’ve caught two mistakes already this week – one in my professional capacity and one in my personal shopping.

The mistake I found pertaining to my job was significant. The merchant shorted us over $60.00 on a credit. Our crew chief goes to a home improvement store to purchase most of his supplies for our jobs. If he has new material left over at the end of the job, he normally returns it to the store for a credit. We avoid carrying unnecessary items in our inventory by employing this practice.

I was checking in our job from last week a few days ago when I noticed a discrepancy. My crew chief had purchased 13 bundles of R-19 fiberglass bat insulation bundles for $42.30 each. He returned 5 of those bundles two days later and was credited $30.24 each. As you can see, this is a significant discrepancy. Thankfully, I enjoy a good relationship with this vendor, and was able to get our credit corrected with an email and a short phone call.

The error I caught in my personal life was much less glaring. I ran to the corner drug store for some mascara on Tuesday. I had a speaking engagement that evening and couldn’t find my mascara. I’m sure it’s rolling around in a pocket of my suitcase from my trip last weekend. I haven’t spent much time searching for it. Of course, I wanted to look my best for my speech, so I ran to the drug store on my lunch break. I think they had every single tube of mascara on sale. Most of them were Buy Two, Get One Free, but I really didn’t want to spend $20.00. I certainly didn’t need three tubes of mascara, so I kept looking. At the very end of the aisle where the inexpensive brands are located, I found some that were on sale 2 for $5.00. One tube was nearly $4.00, so it only made sense to spend the extra $1.00 to purchase two tubes.

I bought the two tubes of mascara and a bag of chips, which was on sale for $1.89. My total came to nearly $10.00. I immediately knew that something was wrong. I’m certainly no math genius, but I do know that $5.00 + $1.89 does not = $10.00. I told the cashier that something was awry and asked him to check the prices on my receipt.

I hadn’t seen him ring up the mascara because I was retrieving my loyalty card from my wallet. He was pleasant about the request and read the prices to me. I told him about the sale price of the mascara, and he wasn’t surprised at all. He told me that there are always a few things that ring up incorrectly. He corrected my total, and my new amount due was $2.14 less than the original amount.

I know some people who wouldn’t have bothered to hold up the line for a couple of bucks, but I work hard for my money. If an item is advertised at a certain price, that is what I expect to pay. If I’m going to donate my money to an organization, I will choose a charity, not a national chain drug store.

Caveat emptor, my friends.

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