Is This Morally Wrong?

Cold-FX and The Scream III by Chealion, on Flickr When it comes to saving money, there are lots of grey areas and retailer policy loopholes to be taken advantage of that can help you save a few extra dollars on your purchases. I’ll be honest and admit that I have taken advantage of some of these loopholes myself over the years. However, at the same time I do aim to conduct myself with honesty and integrity but now and then I still catch myself wondering if I have gone too far or compromised my integrity in some way in an attempt to save a few dollars.

Here’s the situation. About a week ago I came down with a cold and, although I rarely take medication of any sort when I’m sick, I decided to buy some Cold FX to try and ward off the sickness a little quicker. I was short on time so I went to the nearest store to buy the Cold FX where I know the prices are often significantly more expensive than, say, Walmart. I was proven right as I ended up paying about $28 + tax for the 60 pill bottle. I didn’t know what the standard price for Cold FX was at the time, but I knew it must be significantly lower than that!

Fast forward to today, and I was perusing the flyers and planning to do some shopping at the very same store where I bought the Cold FX because they happen to have excellent sale prices even though their regular prices are almost like extortion. While flipping through the circular I immediately noticed that Cold FX was on sale for $10 less than what I had paid for it just one week ago. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if said store had a price protection policy that would allow me to get my purchase price adjusted to the lower sale price, but they don’t.

Most people would just chalk this up to rotten luck and move on. However, knowing the ins and outs of retailer policies combined with the fact that I was going there for a scheduled shopping trip anyway, I had to do something about it!

Fabricating A Price Protection Policy At Stores That Have None

After feeling a little ripped off on the original purchase, this is what I did to get my money back with very little hassle.

First, I went to the store making sure to bring my original receipt with me that had the $28 Cold FX purchase on it.

Second, I walked to the in-store pharmacy counter and purchased a brand new bottle of Cold FX at the sale price that is $10 less than what I originally paid.

Third, I promptly walked to the cash at the front of the store and returned the Cold FX that I had just purchased 30 seconds prior using the old receipt from a week ago consequently getting my full $28 refunded.

Therefore, my total out of pocket cost for the Cold FX after this fiasco is only $18 – a savings of $10 and the equivalent of what would have taken place had the store had a proper price protection policy, which I happen to think every store should have.

Doing this sort of thing is very easy because the two products are identical with the same packaging and bar codes, I had proof of purchase for both of them so I am clearly not stealing, and my original receipt is within the 30 day return window so the return was accepted with no questions asked because the Cold FX being returned was unused and still sealed. The store still makes a nice profit on the sale as well, albeit not nearly as much as they would have made had I never partaken in this vigilante price protection.

Do You Think What I Did Was Wrong?

On my way home I got to thinking if doing this sort of thing is morally wrong or could in any way considered to be fraudulent. Let me be clear, it is not my intention to be fraudulent in any way. It just frustrates me when stores mark their prices up insanely high when they can sell the same product for $10 less and still make a nice profit. The sales and marketing tactics employed by many retailers could easily be considered to be equally as deceptive and sneaky as what I did today. However, all things considered that doesn’t necessarily make it right now does it?

So what is your honest opinion? I can handle your criticism so be sure to let me know if you think what I did was wrong and your reason as to why. Or maybe you would do the same thing I did if given the opportunity – would you? Maybe you’ve even done something similar to this yourself before – have you?

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Sustainable PF's picture

While I haven't done this precise activity I have returned a product after learning it was on sale the following week. However, we had not used or opened the product.

Had you "returned" the used and depleted bottle I would think this was morally incorrect.

The company should have a price protection policy.

March 07, 2011 @ 12:10 pm
SavingMentor's picture

Alright, well that's one in favour of it being A-OK. I agree with you that they should have a price protection policy and that nobody really gets hurt by doing this ... but the thing is that I didn't really return the same exact item that I had originally purchased even if the one I returned was the identical twin.

I could even have gone and bought the identical Cold FX bottle on sale at say Walmart and then returned that one to the other store using my old receipt. Would that make a difference?

Let's see what the next person thinks . . .

March 07, 2011 @ 12:28 pm
youngandthrifty's picture

Hmm this is a good one. In retail clothing stores, it's okay to get a price adjustment within a certain amount of days.

Are you sure that store had no policy of a price adjustment?

I would say that it's sneaky, but you didn't steal anything, nor did you return something that was opened already.

I'm sure it happens all the time.

The thing that gets me is when customers (I used to work in a high end clothing shop where we had final sale stamped on the receipt for holiday party clothes) obviously wore the item, it reeks of perfume, it has hair all over the colour, and then they ask for a refund. Oftentimes they do get it if they kick up enough of a fuss.

March 07, 2011 @ 12:45 pm
Echo's picture

I think this was perfectly acceptable, you just found a loophole in the system. And since you were going there anyways, I can't say that you spent too much of your "time" on this scheme to save $10. I would have done the same thing.

PS - I hate buying Cold FX because it is bloody expensive. If I ever find it for $18 I'm going to snap it up to avoid paying the premium when I'm sick.

March 07, 2011 @ 12:46 pm
LinRegina's picture

I think this was fine and I would have done the same thing for a $10 saving. It is kind of illogical for a store to have a 30 day return policy and not have a price protection policy for the same amount of time because they are just setting up the situation you have described and upsetting customers in the process.

March 07, 2011 @ 12:57 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@youngandthrifty - I'm pretty sure they don't have an official price protection policy. I've actually had them adjust prices for me before but it always involves a manager, a lot of time, and what usually amounts to a return and repurchase of the same item. I've only ever done it with an unopened or returnable item before. Of course, it isn't possible to return an open bottle of Cold FX, except maybe if there was some sort of problem with the medication.

Doing this quick switch made sure the process would be quick and painless with no upset customers waiting in a long line behind me.

@Echo - You may very well be right, maybe it is just fine. But just because a loophole exists, doesn't necessarily make it morally right to use it, does it?

I for one am against downloading and sharing music even though it isn't exactly breaking any laws here in Canada. The music is copyrighted and I know the artists and record labels don't intend for it to be "shared" that way.

March 07, 2011 @ 1:05 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@LinRegina - I agree wholeheartedly that it makes no sense for it to be this way!

But I also don't like insane profit margins, sales that are really the regular price, and the whole business of marketing and selling that is basically just an acceptable form of deception. Those things don't make sense to me either but unfortunately they are unlikely to change.

March 07, 2011 @ 1:09 pm
Echo's picture


Since you posed the question here on your blog, perhaps you don't feel very good about what you did. For me, I probably wouldn't advertise to my friends and family that I did it, but inside I would feel good that I saved the $10. And you paid for the product, it's not stealing.

How about this one? I can get a free Costco membership every 6 years. How, do you ask? Well, the membership expires on the last day of the month you buy it in. I purchase groceries there once a month.

So for example, you can buy your membership on January 1st, 2011. Before it expires, make sure to go shopping around January 31st, 2012. Then renew your membership on March 1st, 2012. Before it expires, go shopping around March 31st, 2013. Renew your membership on May 1st, 2013. Rinse and repeat.

Again, would I advertise that to my friends? No way, they would think I was an idiot for trying to save $60 over 6 years. What kind of a sick freak would do that? Silly, yes. But morally wrong, I don't think so.

March 07, 2011 @ 1:22 pm
Andy's picture

It really depends on how much the difference is. For 10 bucks, I'd do what you did. I'd cap the timeframe to about a week though, cuz after that I forget about it lol.

I don't normally return stuff but I did this once. I had bought some socks as they were on sale, just stocking up. Once I got to wearing them a few months later, I noticed they were significantly bigger than what I had previously bought despite being labeled the same size. So I bought some same ones making sure they're the right fit and then used the receipt to return those old purchases.

March 07, 2011 @ 1:29 pm
JT McGee's picture

I had to read through this twice to see what you mean. I see what you bought package 1, then realized a week later that package 2 could be had for $10 less. You go buy package 2 for $10 less and return it with a receipt for a price that is $10 higher. Tricky...

I'm not really sure how I feel about that, actually. Part of me says if UPC codes are the same, then which receipt you use shouldn't really matter as long as it's within the 30-day window. The other part of me sees that you received a benefit a week early, and created additional restocking work for the company, but can that really be quantified anyway? I don't know.

So...basically, it's $10. They won't miss it, and you probably won't realize you have it. I can't put a "moral" or "immoral" label on it. I can say, though, that this certain store needs to work on its systems.

Surely there has to be some kind of 30-day price match? Maybe it's just unpublished? It would be to their benefit to give you the difference so they don't have to deal with restocking inventory, or dealing with customers who return products that can't be immediately resold.

March 07, 2011 @ 1:34 pm
jim's picture

THis is my take on it: Any time you knowingly trick someone else or exploit some short of loophole then that is morally questionable. Would you have voluntarily told the store employees what you had done if asked about it? If the store manager asked you when you bought the medicine would you have felt like you were 'caught'? My guess is that you basically did this quietly without advertising it and hoping/assuming the store wouldn't know what you had done. If you have to use subterfuge and wouldn't readily admit to what you're doing then I'd say thats a clear sign its morally wrong. If you're doing nothing wrong then you'd have no reason to hide it. But I assume you essentially 'hid' what you were doing as opposed to announcing it. How wrong? Oh, about as wrong as jaywalking when nobody is looking. I wouldn't send you to jail. ;) You're at most guilty of technically breaking a stores rule as far as I can see. Whether or not the store in question does or doesn't have a price protection policy or if you think they should have such a policy is irrelevant. Whether or not they charge high prices and make high profits is irrelevant. If you don't like the stores policy or prices then don't shop there. If a store has high prices and unfriendly policies then that doesn't change the morality of your own actions.

March 07, 2011 @ 2:33 pm
retirebyforty's picture

Personally, I think this is perfectly OK. You are not hurting anybody and why pass up a chance to save 10 bucks? You're stealing from anyone. I would probably do the same thing. $10 is a huge percentage of the $28 original price. If the saving was 50 cents, I would just skip it.

March 07, 2011 @ 2:50 pm
Khaleef @ Fat Guy Skinny Wallet's picture

I think that what you did was wrong for the simple reason that it involved deceit.

It seems like most people are justifying the act by pointing to the lack of a price protection policy, the fact that $10 won't mean much to the store in the long run, or the short time before the price drop.

If you explained your situation to the clerk or even the manager, and they gave you a credit or refund, then there would be no issue. However, since you did something to circumvent the store's policy, I would view it as wrong.

This was a good topic!

March 07, 2011 @ 3:28 pm
Mike Holman's picture

I think your title is redundant. The word "morally" doesn't really mean anything.

I think what you did was wrong because you switched receipts.

Matching up the receipt for one item (old bottle) with a different item (new bottle) is fraudulent, regardless of your rationalization.

The fact that you don't like their price-protection policy doesn't mean it's ok to make up your own. Just don't shop there if their policies don't suit you.

March 07, 2011 @ 3:55 pm
Eric's picture

The stores are always trying to game the customers with return policies that are not very morally correct, so taking it back to their court is totally good in my book.

March 07, 2011 @ 3:57 pm
Suba @ Wealth Informatics's picture

Looks like I am in the minority so don't know if I should put this comment :P but I will still you because you asked. I feel what you did is wrong. You paid the price for convenience of getting a product "when you wanted". If it were something that you didn't need right away to feel better, you would have waited and got when it went on sale right? At that time the store policy wouldn't have mattered to you. If another store had a sale you would have gone there. If this store always had bad prices, you won't shop there regularly. So the store policy, friendly or unfriendly doesn't matter. Just because the store did something wrong, doesn't give us the right to do something wrong.

Great topic!

March 07, 2011 @ 4:21 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@Echo - Well some of my friends and family actually do know that I write this blog so I am pretty much exposing myself to those people by writing this. But they already know I'm willing to do pretty much anything to save a buck anyway. Hopefully they won't judge me too harshly. And yes, I do feel a tinge of guilt for doing it - which is why I was interested in what other people thought about the subject.

@JT - I guess you're on the fence kind of like I am. Interesting discussion none the less.

@Jim - I thought a comment like yours would come much sooner as I know there are people out there that would view what I did as being deceitful and that deceit by definition is morally wrong. I admit I would be shy about telling the store what I had done but I probably would still do it if confronted. Thanks for your input!

@retireby40 - Not even the slightest inkling of it being wrong eh? I don't really think the amount matters all that much though because you could easily substitute any value you want in there and pretty much any product. I think I might have more people saying it was wrong if I had done it with say a car!

@Khaleef - Ok, I guess the wrong-sayers are a little slower to respond but they are coming out of the woodwork. I actually think I could have explained this to the store manager and they like would have given in and tried to refund me the money. But doing so would actually have wasted everyone's time and money and upset the customers waiting in line behind me because this store is notoriously slow at dealing with these types of things. It's kind of funny that doing the "right thing" if what I did is indeed wrong would have cost the store a lot more money in real terms than how I handled it myself.

@Mike Holman - Ouch! Such piercing words from such a respected blogger and not only at my actions but also at my verbiage. That, I wasn't expecting! I wanted to put the emphasis on "morally" because clearly the store is willing to sell the product at the cheaper price and I wasn't stealing a physical or even virtual product from them. For many people this would be a gray area.

What would you say if I had purchased two bottles from the same store at different times and at different prices and opened neither of them. Then I decided to return one of the two bottles. Of course I am going to choose to return the higher priced bottle but since the two bottles are identical I accidentally return the one that I paid less for. Is that still fraud or even "accidental fraud" because your main argument centers around which bottle I returned and making sure to match the correct bottle with the correct receipt. Does the fact that I made an honest mistake absolve me from any wrongdoing?

@Eric - I definitely wish there were less games on both sides to be sure! Money makes people do some strange things - both businesses and consumers.

March 07, 2011 @ 4:26 pm
Jeff's picture

Hahah, I'd say yes this is morally wrong.

March 07, 2011 @ 4:33 pm
Denise @ The Single Saver's picture

Yes, it is wrong. When we shop we gamble on getting the best price or not. In this case, you lost. But honestly, I have to fault the store, too, for not just refunding the difference for you - that would have been good customer service and would have gone a long way in making you a loyal customer.

March 07, 2011 @ 4:52 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@Suba - I'm not sure you will be in the minority for long at the rate things are going! It seems to be a pretty even split with the people saying it is wrong gaining a lot of ground.

@Jeff - Hahah, I'd bet that some of the companies you are invested in have done things that are significantly worse than this possible transgression of mine. Does that make you accountable as an investor? Have you ever turned a blind eye on a profitable investment when a company was doing something you didn't want to know about? Did you know that the company, Foxconn, that builds a lot of Apple's products has an extremely high suicide rate for its employees. What do you think that says about the working conditions at that factory? You probably own a least a little bit of Apple if you are invested in a broad USA based index fund or ETF.

This morality stuff is tricky business!

March 07, 2011 @ 4:58 pm
Mike Holman's picture

Haha - for the record, I don't think you should go to jail or anything. Like Jim said, this is on the same level as jaywalking or less.

Bottom line is that the store is out $10 as a result of your maneuver.

As for your interesting example, I'd say that if it's an honest mistake, then it's ok. I don't think there is such a thing as an "accidental fraud", there has to be some intent.

March 07, 2011 @ 5:23 pm
MoneyCone's picture

I applaud your cleverness! Wrong? I don't think it is that big of a deal for the store or the pharma company.

March 07, 2011 @ 6:04 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@Denise - Thanks for your straightforward point of view.

@Mike Holman - Alright, I'm glad you aren't calling the police on me as we speak! I am definitely reconsidering my actions for the future though because of this discussion. It's a lot to think about. You'd be hard pressed to find a person that hasn't jaywalked at least once in their life, wouldn't you?

I actually had to stop by the same store again today and because of this discussion I outright asked the cashier if they had any sort of price protection policy and I almost chickened out because a supervisor came over just as I was about to ask the question for another reason. I continued with the question because I realized it would be a great opportunity to get two opinions and a more official word because cashiers often don't know what they are talking about or just give rigid answers.

The cashier flat out said that they had no such policy and that nothing could be done for me. The supervisor actually jumped in with no prompting from me at all stating that the store manager would potentially look at it an approve a refund in some cases depending on what the product was. I continued by prompting her what was to stop me from simply returning the item and immediately buying it again at the lower price. She said that was perfectly valid and there was nothing they could do about that. I concluded by saying it would be nice if they had a price protection policy to avoid silly situations such as those.

@MoneyCone - Definitely not a big deal, but still probably outside of what the store had intended. Anyway, thanks for your input!

March 07, 2011 @ 6:52 pm
LaTisha @FSYAonline's picture

I'd have to say this is wrong. So you missed out on ten bucks. So what? You returned a product with a different receipt and that's pretty deceitful. Better to speak with management and get your 10 dollars back that way. You can't always catch a sale.

March 07, 2011 @ 8:00 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@LaTisha - Well it isn't about the amount of money involved at all really. $10 certainly isn't going to break the bank. I just try to save money where I can as a general rule and the amounts that I save add up to be very significant over time. Thanks for chiming in!

March 07, 2011 @ 8:28 pm
Crystal's picture

If you have to ask, it's usually wrong somehow.

In my opinion, if you had not opened the old bottle, returned it for your $28, and then turned around and bought the new $18 bottle, you followed all the policies and got a good deal. But you sort of lied. The receipt wasn't for the bottle you just bought. I don't think it's a huge morality offense and I understand exactly why you did it, but it falls into the "if you gotta ask..." category in my opinion.

I did something very similar with batteries from Best Buy 15 years ago and I still regret it a tiny bit in the back of my mind...I don't think it's a punishable offense, but I wish I hadn't done it...

March 07, 2011 @ 8:43 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@Crystal - Good to see lots of people with strong ethics and morals even for relatively small stuff like this! The world must be a much better place than I thought or maybe bloggers are just outstanding citizens! I agree that rule about having to ask you usually rings true. I wouldn't say it is 100%, but most of the time yes.

The thing is, it seems like quite a few people I know have no problem pirating movies and music over the internet, which I consider to be a much worse offense than this - I mean at least the retailer got some money from me! I wonder what people who are ok with that kind of piracy would say about this situation?

March 07, 2011 @ 9:37 pm
Crystal's picture

I don't know. I pay for my iTunes and rarely buy books or movies thanks to the library. Amazon gets all my cash for whatever I do want to own...

March 07, 2011 @ 9:41 pm
Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer's picture

I think it's wrong for the same reason Khaleef mentioned. It's deceitful. You must deep down know it or why think to ask?

March 07, 2011 @ 11:08 pm
Money Reasons's picture

Yeah, I think it's wrong, and I wouldn't do it, but it's not way over the line...

I blogged about "the Dark Side of Frugality - Losing your integrity" sometime last year, that describes what you did but with a ride-on battery instead.

Still, it's over and done, so don't dwell on it ;)

March 08, 2011 @ 12:21 am
Sandy 's picture

Okay, I owned a store before and knew that people did this, so here it comes from the other side.

Sometime you purchase a batch of stuff at one price and then the wholesaler might have a sale on the next batch or whatever so your purchase it at a lower price and being the nice store owner that you are you decide to give your customers a break. When someone returns the new item for the old price the store person might have technically lost money on the older product since they purchased it at a higher price. Does that make sense?

So was what you did morally wrong? Meh!

March 08, 2011 @ 12:58 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@Kay Lynn - Well I definitely know deep down that it is at least a gray area!

@Money Reasons - I think I may have read that article of yours a while back. It didn't inspire this post at all but if I recall it was a good read. I may go check it out again just to see. Thanks for the advice!

@Sandy - I definitely see your point there. However, as a store owner you would also be put in the same position if a person did a normal everyday return. Both you and the customer purchased it at a higher price and you could end up selling it at a lower price if you put it back on the shelf during the ongoing sale. To get around this you could always decide to "keep it off the shelves" until the sale ended if it was that important to you.

March 08, 2011 @ 4:38 pm
youngandthrifty's picture

Hehe, great discussion.

It's like a virtual ethics board review panel here!

Shall we go into ethical concepts such as 'for the greater good' etc.? :)

I do agree with Mike, that it is fraudulent in a way (you switched bottles), but in the grand scheme of things, it's a drop in the big bucket/ocean of the big chain store. It's not harmful to the store, you did just find a loophole.

I think the better question to ask is how do you personally feel about it? Do you feel that you did something morally wrong? Or do you feel that you were justified because you felt that you were done wrong by the big box store?

March 09, 2011 @ 3:46 am
Invest It Wisely's picture

I think it's a little bit sneaky, but I don't know about it being morally wrong. You returned the same product that you bought, right? This seems like a gray zone to me; it's a little bit sneaky but you are returning something identical to what you purchased at the time. It would be good for the story to have a policy to handle these sort of situations.

March 09, 2011 @ 11:31 pm
some guy
some guy's picture

retail is all about deceiving the customer. How many times do you see a product for say 15.00 and a week later see it in the same store 50% off for 11.00. I say Quid pro quo, you win today; they win tomorrow.

March 09, 2011 @ 11:36 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@youngandthrifty - I think it's some of both honestly! Like some guy says in the comment below yours, retailers can be very sneaky in their marketing and advertising practices and are always deceiving customers in minute ways (there are laws to protect consumers for a reason!). I don't think repaying wrong for wrong is necessarily a good way to live so I want to make sure that I'm not crossing the line.

@Invest It Wisely - You said it!

March 10, 2011 @ 6:51 pm
Otterguy's picture

I feel it is wrong, you buy the product you take your chances, just because it is only $10.00 does not make any difference. What would you do if you purchased a new car and then they put on a sale?

March 11, 2011 @ 9:35 am
Derek Sproule
Derek Sproule's picture

I would have done the same thing knowing what the pricing strategy of the chain is. They know months in advance when a product will be on sale and at what price. They will order from the manufacturer at that price before the sale period and will order at the end of the sale period for delivery after the sale period at that same lower price. They will then sell that inventory at the higher price thus increasing their profits. If the chain allows returns then it is perfectly acceptable to return the product for the lower price. I used to shop at at chain that rhymes with "years" because the salespeople would check to see if the item was coming on sale in the near future. If it was they would tell us to come back when it was on sale or give us the sale price if it was close to the sale date. They stopped doing this in my experience so we stopped shopping there.

March 11, 2011 @ 9:56 am
SavingMentor's picture

@Otterguy - Yes, as I mentioned in one of my other comments, I totally agree that the amount of money involved doesn't matter. But one thing you do have to remember, is that no matter how much money we are talking about here the store is still making a profit on the purchase - just a smaller profit is all. Unless, of course, the sale price of the item is lower than their actual cost (i.e. a loss leader). But, if they choose to sell products below their cost, then that's their own fault.

@Derek Sproule - Thanks for that additional information! I've also experienced Sears giving advance knowledge of sale prices and I always appreciated it. Too bad they are doing it less often now. I think you just need to speak to the right employee to get that kind of information, especially at Sears.

March 11, 2011 @ 10:15 am
DividendMan's picture

I think it's wrong for the reasons above - fraud being the most apparent.

I see many people referencing the amount of money but the amount shouldn't be the issue.

I also think it's wrong on an intellectual level as people seem to increasingly feel that they should be protected from everything by someone else. People always cry about what should be after the fact instead of educating themselves in the first place.

Caveat emptor. You didn't know the store return policy, you wanted the item and agreed to pay $28. Then to justify your actions you blame *them* for you not knowing/agreeing with their policy!

I do give you points for the being clever with the fraud though :)

March 11, 2011 @ 5:21 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@DividendMan - Actually you don't have it quite right. I was pretty sure they didn't have a price protection policy before this happened (like 95%). I also knew I would be overpaying buying it there, I just wasn't sure by how much. I was actually totally fine with that. However, when you combine the sale taking place so shortly after I first bought the Cold FX, the price difference being so large, and the fact that I was planning to go shopping there again anyway - I just decided to get my money back creatively.

The justification is that nobody really gets hurt because the store still sells one bottle of cold FX to me in the end - it just happens to be at a lower price but they still make a profit. Loophole, fraud, or just morally wrong - you decide. In fact, I wasn't really crying about anything because I knew the policy and it isn't enough to stop me from shopping there. I just happen to think all stores should have a price protection policy and treat their customers more fairly in general.

Mostly, I'm just dreaming of an ideal (shopping) world that will never actually be a reality.

March 11, 2011 @ 6:54 pm
Melanie S
Melanie S's picture

I'm undecided on the wrong vs right argument, rhough I'm leaning towards wrong, but really not a big deal wrong. I think it would be worse if you had bought the second item from a different store because in that case you have deprived the store of a sale despite having used the product.

March 11, 2011 @ 9:52 pm
SavingMentor's picture

@Melanie S - I agree, that would be worse then - but they would still have their product that they could sell to somebody else even then.

March 12, 2011 @ 10:42 pm
Shamj's picture

I do this all the time. There is no reason to pay more than you really should. If stores like this charged the lowest price they could at all times, we wouldn't have to review the circulars and perfrom buy and returns like this.

I am 100% supportive.

March 14, 2011 @ 10:43 am
SavingMentor's picture

@Shamj - Thanks! I totally agree that it would be nice if stores offered the lowest prices they could and still make a reasonable amount of money - but unfortunately that will never happen. There is always Capitalism at play and people being greedy and trying to make the most money possible. Of course, I'm not immune to that either - but I do think it is kind of sad just the same.

March 15, 2011 @ 10:10 pm
my opinion
my opinion's picture

I feel that your actions were not " deceptive and sneaky"

I feel that if the store location is convenient, you had the time required and the energy to return to this retailer (that purchases huge quanities of product at greatly reduced prices )you "did the right thing" as a saavy consumer

March 18, 2011 @ 5:54 pm
Vicky Hay's picture

IMHO, there's a difference between "morally wrong" and "ethically questionable."

While it could be argued that you didn't steal anything because the product was returned, you did relieve the store of $10 of revenue received earlier from you in good faith. That you worry about it suggests a lack of good faith on your part. It comes around to the "when in doubt, don't" policy. Usually your gut feeling is right.

You didn't steal anything (exactly), you didn't kill anyone, you didn't fornicate with anyone's spouse. If you were in a low-margin business (as is the case for most grocery stores), is this how you would want your customers to do unto you?

Dividend Man is correct in observing that the amount of money involved is irrelevant to the question.

December 31, 2011 @ 1:04 am
Alan's picture

I'm not a legal expert, but I'd say what you did amounted to fraud.

January 03, 2012 @ 1:49 pm
Penny Pinching Professional's picture

I'm not sure that they're necessarily still making a profit with that deep of a discount. A lot of times when you see things marked down by that much those products are loss leaders. The company is willing to make no profit (often losing a little money) in order to get you in the door to buy something else.

As for whether it's wrong to do that, I don't know. Would you feel comfortable doing both transactions with the same cashier, one right after the other? If not, or if you think the cashier would balk at it, then you probably shouldn't do it.

January 07, 2012 @ 10:48 am
James Feudo's picture

Great thought provoking question. I don't think what you did was morally wrong, it was smart shopping. A lot of people do that (and that alone doesn't make it right) because stores allow it (some even just let you bring the receipt and will just refund it that way).

You didn't steal anything or get the lower price in an illegal manner. And you returned the unopened bottle, so the store can still sell it. Given that so many people do much worse (again, alone not a reason to make what you did okay), I wouldn't worry about it.


January 13, 2012 @ 12:40 am
SavingMentor's picture

Thanks for all the extra input everyone. Seems like everyone has a strong opinion one way or the other on this issue!

January 28, 2012 @ 11:44 pm
Amanda L Grossman's picture

I am very late to the game!!!

I just wanted to point out that if you paid with a credit card, most credit cards have a price protection program that you could have submitted to for a refund of the difference.

Then you won't have to ask either way!

February 08, 2012 @ 11:05 am
SavingMentor's picture

Thanks for the tip Amanada! Unfortunately, here in Canada it is definitely the exception, not the rule, for credit cards to have price protection. Only a few of them do and practically none of the no annual fee cards have it.

There's also the forms and time consuming process you have to go through to get it refunded through your credit card. They probably need some kind of proof as well. Have you ever done a price protection through your credit card? Was it easy?

February 09, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

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