When it comes to my personal money matters, I'm a very imperfect steward. One bad habit I'm trying to break is my frequent failure to examine the receipts I get when I'm done shopping. I know that by failing to do so, I may not get those raspberries at their sale price ... or I may have been charged for three T-shirts instead of two ... or the appetizer that never arrived may still be on the bill.
On our Credit Cards and Consumer Debt discussion board recently, I ran across a sobering example of why it's always smart to check that receipt. Longtime Fool Community member 2gifts shared an article about a woman in South Carolina who bought $8.64 worth of food at a Burger King, but was charged $8,648.64 by accident. Since the woman paid by debit card, the amount was instantly whisked out of her bank account. The good news is that the cashier immediately caught the error, and the sum was refunded. Eventually. It seems that her bank took several days to refill her account, and in the interim, she was mightily inconvenienced, since she had other bills to pay.
The original post discussing this story collected more than 40 responses. (Read the whole discussion, if you like.).
Some people cited this mix-up as a good reason to use credit cards instead of debit cards, since credit cards won't remove money from your bank account, and because credit card companies often spot and flag suspicious transactions like this one. (I'll add that even though credit cards have many wonderful benefits, you may still be better off with a debit card if you're deep in credit card debt or need to work on your self-discipline.)
2gifts herself added:
I once got charged $3,000 for a bag of apples. [You] should have seen the look on the clerk's face when she looked up at the register and saw what she put in. We both got quite a chuckle out of that, but at least it got caught while it being checked out, though I might have had a hard time coming up with that much cash in my wallet.
TchrP chimed in, "Once I was in the checkout line at Lowe's when the customer ahead of me was charged $10,000 for a can of rejected paint that should have been $5."
When I looked around for similar stories, I found one at thesmokinggun.com, about a strip-club patron who got socked $129,626 for a seven-hour stay. Making matters worse, his credit card company allegedly was reluctant to strike the transaction, because he'd signed for it.
The moral of these stories is a simple one: Check your receipts.
Learn much more about the surprisingly interesting credit card industry by visiting our Credit Center, which also features tips on getting out of debt, along with guidance on how to manage your credit effectively. Really. I mean it. There's some great stuff in our Credit Center, and it's all free reading.
The following articles can also help you:
- How Insecure Is Your Credit Card?
- Credit Repair Secrets
- The Hidden Costs of Credit Accidents
- Making Up for Missed Payments
- Getting Rich on Credit
- What's So Bad About Credit Card Debt?
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article, but she enjoys Whopper Jrs. and shops at Lowe's. Try any of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool isFools writing for Fools.