Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Have you ever been short-changed?

Perhaps I’m imagining the danger but the older I get the more I find myself wary of being short-changed while out shopping.
It happened again today in a local supermarket. My change - I prefer to pay cash rather than plastic on sums under 10 quid – was £1 short.
I think it was a deliberate fiddle because the checkout girl gave me the wrong amount from coins she had at the side of the till rather than in it. Grudgingly she gave me my correct money
There are a number of conclusions to be drawn which reflect as much on me as my alleged fraudster, albeit a minor league one.
1. I could be wrong and it was a genuine mistake.
2. I may have been a target because at 67 I was thought less likely to spot being fiddled.
3. Just as possible I wasn’t targeted because of my age; but now as a pensioner I’m more careful with money and therefore alive to such strokes.
4. This means I’ve likely been ripped off regularly throughout my life and only now I’m more alert to such things.
5. I’ve now adopted the strategy of rounding up – in other words if the bill is £5.27 and I’m paying with a tenner I’ll add, say, a 50p piece so I know I should get a £5 note plus 13p in coins back rather than all coins. It’s also lighter on pocket wear and tear.
6. Alternative explanations for the apparent increasing frequency of change rip-offs might say something about our life and times.
7. Perhaps youngsters are leaving school so innumerate that they are incapable of dispensing the right change even when the sum is indicated by their till.
8. Or else shop assistants are either so personally strapped for cash or else alienated from their jobs – or both – that it’s open season on gypping customers.
9. This latter thought if right is the most worrying. It means once sanctioning a minor con, it's a slippery slope in the direction of bigger fiddles. In this case it's more likely store operators rather than their customers will suffer.
10. In the long term we all do because stores bump up their prices to cover staff pilferage.
What do you think?


  1. Gosh you think just because someone short-changed you by £1 she must've been a fraudster?! Ever heard of a mistake, ever made one? I work on a till and I've short-changed people, by more than £1 on a couple of occasions. It's always been a genuine mistake (believe it or not) and I've apologised profusely when it's happened and given them the correct change.
    I've also had a customer claim I didn't give them £5 change (a few minutes after I'd served them) and I stupidly just gave them £5 out of the till, later to find out we were now £5 short. Did I suspect the customer was trying to short change us? No I just put it down to a mistake.

    Seriously it's only a pound, if she was genuinely trying to defraud you I'm sure she would've tried for more than £1. She's probably serving hundreds of customers a day, she's not a robot, mistakes do happen. Although I guess *in your day* everyone was perfect.

    Just make sure you count your change and don't be so cynical and suspicious if it happens again aye?

  2. Dear Anon,
    Thank you for your comment.
    You're right to admonish me even though my point 1 allows that it could have been a genuine mistake.
    My suspicions were aroused because the change came from the pile of coins she had on the side of the till.
    But I'll endeavour to be less cynical in future. GC


What do you think? GC