Three times this week I have been checking out at one store or another and noticed that something was rung up incorrectly in my favor. First the cashier entered the code for my spaghetti squash but it did not ring up and he moved on, then, after a careful and through review of the coupon I presented, a cashier rang up my item as costing $2, rather than $2 off, and finally I bought 12 bottles of apple juice (hey, it was on sale) and was only charged for 10 of them. Each time, I noticed during my transaction, and each time I pointed out the problem. Hey, I don't think that spaghetti squash rang up. Hey, that is just supposed to be $2 off, I should owe you $4. Hey, I'm pretty sure I got 12 of those. And each time I was assured by the cashier that they were correct, that I was wrong, that my total was correct.
But it wasn't. I was right and they were wrong. Now, I know a lot of people who feel that this kind of mistake in their favor is just their good luck, but I always feel obliged to point it out. It got me to wondering though, what is my responsibility here? How hard do I have to push to be charged more in order to meet my moral obligations? And also, why do I feel I am responsible for correcting the error while I am standing at the cash register, but that noticing a problem at any point thereafter absolves me of responsibility for doing anything at all about it?
(And hey, it happened a fourth time this morning, but at least the cashier pulled the item out of the bag and scanned it when I mentioned it, so I don't have to add a stolen $1.50 hat to my mental tally.)