Would You Go Back And Pay?

Please Pay Here 3-14-09 19My question to you today is….What would you do if the cashier forgot to ring up an item on your order? Is this a black and white answer or more complex decision that deals in shades of grey?

Black and White Decision

One potential answer to this question is that you should correct the cashier and bring up the the missed item on your order. It doesn’t matter if you made it all the way home and didn’t realize the issue for a few hours.

As a past cashier myself, I know that busy lines and a long day can easily result in a slip up and the cashier missing an item when you check out. I greatly appreciated the customers that corrected me because the boss kept pretty close tabs of unaccounted for items! Bosses noticed even faster when they were high dollar value items.

Of course, the other option is to simply not say anything and keep the item. This is where things get trickier and the shades of grey start to creep in. There are many excuses people might make or ways that people justify not going back to pay for the item.

Timing of Noticing

The next factor to consider deals with how long it took until you actually realized that you weren’t charged for an item. Would it make a difference to you if you realize the cashier forgot an item before the transaction ended? How about if you made it just out the door, down the street or all the way home? Would you turn around and go back to pay for it? At what point would it be too late and would you keep the item?

Amount the Unringed Item Cost

So say this forgotten item on your transaction was just a couple bucks, would you just let it go? What if it cost more than $10? Is there a certain pricing level that would make the average person feel guilty enough to return and pay for it or would it just make most of us feel like we kinda won the lottery?

Type of Store

Walmart Grocery Checkout Line in Gladstone, MissouriLast but not least, would the type of store make a difference in your decision? Would you feel less inclined to return to pay for an item at a big box store that easily absorbs the cost of lost merchandise? How about a mom and pop store that depend on every single sale for their lively hood?

Let me know if you have ever been in this situation and what you did/would have done! Lets get some discussion going! 


  1. The biggest for me would be the time that I realized if they didnt ring something up. If I am already home the chances of me turning around are slim to none. Other than that for the most part I would turn around and pay. I have to do what i expect my kids to do so setting an example is key.

  2. I probably wouldn’t go back and pay if I was already home. I might go back and pay if I hadn’t made it out of the parking lot yet! =)

  3. Like Holly, I wouldn’t go back to pay if I realized by the time I was far away from the store. But if I realized it at the moment, I would definitely pay up.

  4. I was in a somewhat similar situation. I realized I was given too much cash at the drive through.
    I don’t see it as a nameless corporation type thing. If there is a chance someone could lose their job over my not being honest, I will do my best to correct things.

  5. I always give back change when I notice I’ve been given too much (and my wife recently found $42 at the supermarket self-checkout register and handed it in).

    If I was already in the parking lot, I probably wouldn’t go back, but I guess it depends on the item. And who I’m with. If I wanted to set a good example or didn’t want the guilt, I’d go back.

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