Lesson of Woman Overcharged for Whopper: Check Receipts!

How often do you check receipts when you’re home from shopping or stopping at a fast food restaurant? Here’s a story that might make you do it more often.

It’s always embarrassing to swipe your card or insert it into the slot of one of those buzzing card readers only to have the card declined. It hasn’t happened to me in a long time, and fortunately, the last time it did happen, it appeared the issue was an outage at my bank’s computer network rather than a problem with my actual account.

But it happened to a woman in England recently at, of all places, a Burger King.

You might well be thinking, She couldn’t even have afforded a meal at Burger King?

Well, she could have afforded a meal at Burger King if it had been rung up correctly by the cashier. But instead of ringing up a total of $12.38, she rang up a bill of approximately $12,384.40. At the moment, I could afford a $12.38 debit from my checking account. I can assure you, however, that my checking account has never even seen a $12,000+ balance.

Maybe one day it will. I think that’d be a nice day. But I digress….

It turns out, according to Consumerist, the bank didn’t necessarily decline the charge because she didn’t have the money in her account — she may or may not have — but because the charge was “abnormally large.”

It sounds like her bank is taking care of her.

But what if, instead of a $12,384.40 charge, the cashier had rung up a $123.84 charge? Would her bank have automatically declined that charge? Would she have realized that much money had been taken out of her checking account? And, if so, would it have caused her account to go into overdraft?

Even a much smaller typo could still cause some big bills and headaches for a consumer who doesn’t check a receipt and may not, therefore, notice there was a problem until there was an even bigger problem!

I found a potential solution at my bank.

Aside from actually looking at the receipt, there’s another way I can immediately know if there’s something particularly suspicious going on. My bank, like many, offer the option to have various alerts automatically sent to your phone. So I set an automatic alert so that any time a debit of more than $15 is charged to my checking account, I’ll get an alert. Often, within a few seconds of processing the card, the alert hits my phone.

If I go to McDonald’s, for instance, for one of my usuals there, the total is $8.39, according to my last receipt. If, by accident, the cashier were to type an extra digit, say, $83.39, I would have an alert about that before I was out of the parking lot, and could have the chance to get it corrected right that minute while I was still at the restaurant.

If your bank offers free text alerts for your checking account, I would seriously recommend you use them: they could save you a big headache!

How often do you actually check receipts for things you buy? Have you ever caught an overcharge?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.