Five Tips to Avoid Grocery Store Overcharges

I have a series at The Frugalette called What? No Coupons! There are so many ways to save money without clipping one coupon. Avoiding and fighting back on grocery store overcharges is a big one! New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs reported grocery stores throughout the country overcharge consumers at least 1 Billion Dollars every year. The report further states that the overcharges may actually total up to a whopping 2.5 BILLION yearly.
Surprised? Not much. Almost every time I go shopping some item has rung up higher than the advertised price. In just a couple of shopping trips that adds up quickly, sometimes as much as $5-$10 difference! Forget coupons, if the stores can’t get their prices right, how am I supposed to really know what I’m paying?

Here are my top 5 tips to avoid Grocery Store Overcharges:
ASK FOR POLICY Just like keeping a coupon policy handy, take a quick trip to customer service and ask them what their policy is for pricing errors. Keep it handy, you just might need it during check-out!
PRICE CHECK Know what you should be charged versus what the price rings up as. If you find the mistake at the time of purchase a lot of stores will give you the item FREE. If you find the mistake after you leave the store,  head back to customer service. They will refund the difference.
KEEP RECEIPTS If you notice a continued pattern of pricing errors, keep your receipts and file a complaint with your state’s Consumer Affairs Division. They take this seriously, and will follow-up with you.
BE ASSERTIVE Request the cashier to delay scanning your items until everything is on the belt so you can watch the items being rung up. Will the cashier and people behind you get annooyed? Maybe, but it’s your money, and your tired of getting overcharged!
EXAMINE DISCREPANCIES Usually when I get home I’ll go over the receipt compared to what I bought. It takes time, but inevitably I find a discrepancy. I’ll circle it and keep it with me. Next time I’m in the store I’ll get my refund.
It’s your money, watch it well!
Have you ever caught a grocery overcharge?


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  1. this is great because I always felt like I gotta have coupons! Are you ever given a hard time when you bring the receipt back for discrepancies?

    • I've never been given a hard time. Stores change 7,000 prices in any given week, they know things slip through! On my sidebar I have a whole series of What? No Coupons!, even a die-hard couponer has to take a break sometime! ;)

  2. Uuugggh, such a good reminder to actually pay attention when paying for things. Sometimes I walk away from a shop barely remembering making the purchase because I'm on auto-pilot.

    • Ghada, Im usually on auto pilot too, just keep the receipt and try to look it over later at home when you get a chance, just keep it with you next time you're in the store.

  3. I have learned to carefully watch the cashiers when they are ringing up produce. It seems if it's not an apple, banana or orange they don't know what it is and instead of asking, they guess!

    • You are SO right! Also for organic vs. conventional. Almost every time I've bought produce at Whole Foods it rings up organic even if I bought conventional, one time I bought conventional cabbage and it rang up organic, they actually had the same tags..came out to a $6 difference!

  4. I may be overly cautious but I always have my list, then as I'm putting things in the cart I re-write my list with the exact amount written on the shelf (w/ coupons noted next to the item). That way when I get up to the register I can a. make sure it's the exact amount and b. know if there's a difference in my total and the total being rung up then I need to see what's ringing up higher. Oh, and I try to go to the grocery store either alone or with only one kid to avoid distractions while at the register. Thanks for these awesome tips!

  5. I like to check my receipts before I leave the store otherwise I forget or get too lazy to go back.

    • Tazim, even if you find check it later, just keep it with you, next time you'rein the store shopping stop by CS, they will/should honor the refund.

  6. This is a great post. I once left the store and they overcharged me $100. Always great to look at the receipt!

  7. My husband is so great about things like this. He always catches the errors and calls them out. He usually gets what he wants too!!

  8. Great post and reminder to check the receipt. I need to read some more of your tips!

  9. I'll have to watch more often! I often don't and I bet I've missed a bunch of errors. Especially the "guessing produce" kind!

  10. This is a great post! I've been overcharged various times and just head back to customer service. I've never had an issue with them at all but of course it helps to be polite. I've also forgotten to use a coupon or two and they'll generally take it off at customer service as well. Doesn't hurt to ask!

    • That's a great point! If you forget a coupon most stores, even drugstores will do a "post-coupon" sale and will give you the credit for it. Rite Aid in the past has just given me cash when I brought the coupon in!

  11. My mom always compare the receipt and the stuff we got to see if nothing's missing. She always cares about the money she spends. I should learn how to do that.


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