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I ordered some food from the manufacturer instead of buying it at the store. It is a small manufacturer, and I wanted to make sure I had enough. It is a common practice of this local manufacturer to sell directly to it's clients. I have bought several times in the past and my orders are always over a hundred dollars.

A couple of months ago I ordered the food and went to pick it up as usual. I paid and left.
About a month later, I get a phone call from a person at the manufacturer stating that they undercharged me by $12.50 and asked me to send them a check. I thought it was very petty on their part, but I was going to pay them and never buy from them again. Unfortunately, several deaths occured and my mind is(still is) gone. They called in the midst of this, and said I owed them this time $7.50. It totally slipped my mind. Today, while I was at an appointment, they called again, but haven't talked to them.

What do I say to them, and do I pay? I think it is very petty and bad business practice on their part. I got a bill that said that I was paid in full. What would you guys do? TIA

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  1. One of two things, or a combo. I would either 1. ask them to itemize exactly what I owed and why, and send me a bill, which I would send back with a letter of complaint (which I would also file with the BBB and/or Angie's List), or

    2. ask to speak to a manager/supervisor and explain the situation, registering my frustration with the way the whole thing had been handled. A good manager ought to instruct employees not to hound customers over what ought to be a drop in the bucket, to take the twelve freakin' fifty as a (tiny, paltry) loss and resolve to hire people with better math skills next time.

    In either case, I would make it clear that it's stupid business practice to nickle and dime your customers to death unless you like having zero customers. For crying out loud, if something scans wrong at the grocery store you get the lower price at least!

    1. I would only add that the nicer you are while explaining your dilemma/issue, the better your outcome will be. Be assertive but not insulting or rude.

      1. Sorry, I sometimes miss or misinterpret the specifics.

        . Did you get pay the original request for $12.50 and get asked for $7.50 EXTRA, or forget the original request for $12.50 and get asked for $7.50 INSTEAD?

        . Did you get the bill that said you were paid in full when you first paid for the food, or after the requests for additional payments?

        2 Replies
        1. re: KTFoley

          Unfortunately, it was the second. I am going through a lot and honestly forgot. Yes, I got a bill saying paid in full. I feel like I am being harassed. I have so much going on, that this is the last thing I have thought of. Also, I got the calls on my cell, and I wasn't home, so I really didn't even think about it.
          Thanks for your input.

          1. re: paprkutr

            Why are you putting yourself through this over 7.50???

        2. Wow, tacky business practices. I would ask them to send me an invoice and to stop calling me when they make an error. I can't tell from your post if this has happened more than once, but if it has, I think you should let them know that you need your bill on paper to help them avoid those errors in the future. Anyone can make a mistake once...but more than that indicates something is wrong.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sedimental

            It is more than just tacky. They referred to two different amounts on two different occaisions. That is sloppy accounting and business practices, at best.

            At worst, it could be an employee trying to take advantage of the employer.

            My advice is to call them back, ask to speak to a manager, briefly and politely outline the circulstances, tell said manager that you have a bill saying you have paid in full and have been told two different amounts and are confused as to whether you owe anything, and if so, how much, give them your address, and ask them to send an itemized bill. If you get one, pay it and then choose whether to ever do business with them again. If you don't get one, don't pay anything.

            as for the poster who says that this probably represents the profit on a small order and therefore implying that you should pay: sorry, not until OP has something in writing that shows that he or she really does owe them money. I don't care how small the company is, this employee is not doing the company ANY favors, and management needs to be aware of their practices when a billing mistake is made.

            If it is the management that is calling, and they can't even get their act together to send a written invoice, then I must say I have absolutely *no* sympathy for their position.

            1. re: susancinsf

              Exactly. You have the receipt that shows you paid?
              And done.

          2. I got a bill that said that I was paid in full.
            then you owe them nothing.

            and i'm so sorry to hear about your recent losses :(

            2 Replies
            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Yes, agreed. If you paid, and were told you had paid in full, you don't owe them a cent.

              1. re: LauraGrace

                Maybe, but I think Harters has a point - if they accidentally overcharged you but you'd already agreed and signed it all off, wouldn't you still hope that they would be good enough to refund you?

            2. I would politely raise the matter with them pointing out the "paid in full".

              That said, honest errors can work both ways. If they had ovecharged you, I presume you'd hope they'd refund the overcharge.

              1. * If I were a regular customer, I would pay the requested amount.

                * If I expected to purchase from them in the future, I would pay the requested amount.

                * If you do not plan to purchase there again, then don't pay the requested amount.

                I'm sorry for your losses, but you are letting your emotions factor into a business matter, whether petty, wrong or not, the business explained an error. You can choose to agree or not, however,. They cannot possibly know your personal matters and are just trying to recover an error on someone's mistake in their employ. By your own admission, you have not addressed the matter with payment, so that's the reason for the repeated calls, Three calls is not harassment. It's important enough for them to follow up on this matter, so you have to ask yourself how you want to address the matter and respond, or not.

                I'm also sorry to tell you this, but a purchase of $100+ really is not a significant order for a manufacturer, where the profit margins are already lower than if you had purchased from a regular outlet.....I would further assess that the amount requested is at a minimum of 50% of their profits for the order, per $100.

                As some have noted about the shoe being on the other foot, so to speak You would want to an error corrected if it was not in your favor.....Personally, I am not comfortable with receiving any benefit I am not entitled to, or have not earned..You save money from shopping through this manufacturer. Yes, It's a small error and a bad business practice to try to recover the amount from you......but if you do not pay it, your future savings will not be available to you again.

                As the saying goes, *Cutting off the nose to spite the face*...you have to decide what is best for you in the end and bigger picture.

                1. Someone made a mistake in your favor, they asked you to correct it twice. You didn't do what you said you would. I think you should pay them because that is the honest way.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: escondido123

                    Precisely.....let's use a different example for those who think a receipt paid in full is suffice for this matter to be put to rest. We do not know the nature of the error. Was it a simple math error or something more.. For the former, let say there was an error in addition, or a number was missing. If the bill was actually $100.02. but you paid $10.02 and received a receipt....would you feel it's their error and they have to live with the outcome. I would say it doesn't matter if it's one dollar, ten dollars or $100. ... an error was made and it was brought to your attention. Let's ay it was a clerical error. You asked for Breast Meat, received Breast Meat, but were charged for Dark Meat......Same applies. Do you act honestly, or say tough luck...I choose the former, not the latter.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      without a written bill, particularly given that two different amounts were quoted at two different times, how does OP know that a mistake really was made?

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        Exactly. I find it very suspicious that they've called him and given him two different amounts instead of just sending him a written bill. He has a written bill that says "paid in full" -- why should he pay them some apparently random amount based on inconsistent verbal statements?

                    2. I think simplicity in business dealings is best. Ask for an itemized bill. If you owe the money, pay it. It doesn't matter whether they are being petty or are just disorganized. If you underpaid, pay up. If not, point it out and don't pay. You don't have to do business with them again if you don't like the way they do things.

                      1. I don't know if this business has the right to ask you to pay up. You enter into a tacit agreement when you purchase. Items are rung up, the total is given and you hand over payment based on the price that was given to you at the time of sale.
                        That's what you BOTH agree to at the time of the transaction, so I find the business to be deceptive at worst, and terrible bad at math at best.
                        If you agreed to pay more, which is ridiculous as the onus is on them, but if you did, then honor your word, get them off your back and move on to another business.
                        I'd be done with them. I couldn't trust them to act in good faith in the future.
                        It's not a lot of money, but that mistake and behavior is a doozie!

                        21 Replies
                        1. re: monavano

                          I worked in retail and I would hope people realize that salespeople and clerks are human and make mistakes. One Christmas I helped a man who purchased a large amount of cookware--his total bill was about $800 which he charged. I accidentally keyed in $80, which is what he signed for, and at the end of the day the till was short $720. Since it was found before midnight we were able to rebill the credit card for the correct amount. If that person had come back with their cc receipt showing the $80, do you think he should not have had to pay the rest and still kept the $800 of cookware?

                          1. re: escondido123

                            You charged the card without the customer there to agree to it and sign for THAT amount of money? Yikes! That's bigger than you're first faux pas.

                            1. re: escondido123

                              yes- if they kept the receipt they could have called visa and the charges would be reversed ; and your store would be under serious heat for doing that (it would be considered fraud).

                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                OTOH, in the cookware case, the buyer would have known what they were buying and that it should have been 10X as much. How could you sit back and not say a single word? Not even, 'wow, I knew it was on sale, but not that much?' Visa doesn't automatically reverse all charges, they investigate and may well side with the merchant, that the customer bought $800 of lets say all-clad, expected to pay $800, and had no reason to believe they should get it for $80.

                                So the OP has bought several times from the manufacturer and if s/he had bought the same item several times, they would have an idea if the bill was approximately the same amount. Seems like it could have been something like the price had changed but not been updated. I would definitely expect an itemized explanation.

                                1. re: babette feasts

                                  I certainly have misgivings about this customer, no doubt. It's hard for me to believe that he would have no clue what the total really was.
                                  If he didn't vigorously complain to the store or refute the credit charge, I think he realized that his dishonesty was discovered.

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    Since he didn't dispute the corrected charge there's no reason to accuse him of being dishonest. If the person who keyed in the amount and printed out the credit slip didn't notice the amount was wrong it's quite possible the customer didn't notice the amount was wrong, either. Maybe they were chatting and he just signed the slip without looking at it. Maybe he was dreaming of all the delicious food he was going to cook in his new cookware and signed the slip without looking at it. Etc.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      I'm not so bullish on people!
                                      You go into Williams Sonoma and pick yourself up some nice copper or All Clad. You get a lot of it and it comes to only 2 figures, when it should be well into 3.
                                      Unless you use $100 bills to blow your nose, you're going to be conscientious when transacting a purchase this big. How does one blithely sign?
                                      I also can not remember the last time I purchased something at a store when the total was not said to me.
                                      I'm not buying it, but you can have faith!

                                      1. re: monavano

                                        Well, according to escondido123, she did say the amount. Everyone agreed that the amount was $800 and no one noticed there was a missing zero on the credit slip. Happens. There's no reason to think that anyone was being dishonest. And this is coming from a person who pointed out repeatedly that the scale was wrong when a clerk was significantly undercharging me for some bulk tea a few weeks ago. I couldn't convince him that he was wrong and walked out feeling guilty about the $10 bucks he undercharged me.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Exactly Ruth, it was just an error because I was rushing to handle a line of customers the length of the store. I am one of those people who will point out a mistake, in my favor, on a bill and will go back to give back extra change I shouldn't have gotten. That's how I was raised and it's just automatic. The idea that someone would take advantage of a mistake just amazes me, but I guess not everyone has the same moral compass.

                                  2. re: babette feasts

                                    But they would have no signature for an 800 dollar purchase...

                                    It would be mean for the customer to do but Im pretty sure visa would side with the customer.. It is the store's responsibility to correctly enter the total sum, not the customer. If the store makes a mistake, they have to pay for it.

                                    1. re: kpaxonite

                                      It was an error on my part and given the busyness of that holiday shopping I assumed that the customer just signed and didn't look at--in our store you got a separate receipt from our cash register. Since we had no way of contacting the buyer (VISA does not give out that information) the only way we could correct the error was by doing so before midnight. If the buyer had looked at his VISA bill and felt he'd been overcharged I'm sure we would have heard about it one way or another. We also would have been able to show the time of the sale from our register receipt which would have been within a minute of the cc receipt and he would not have had a store receipt that showed otherwise. So I guess those of you who think the store (in some places that means the employee themself--but not in my case) should take the burden, then if the store overcharged by that same amount and the customer didn't catch it then the store gets to keep the money? Oh, the total was said to the customer, but then my fingers missed a zero when I was entering the numbers on the cc machine so the $800 was charged as $80.

                                      1. re: kpaxonite

                                        Over the five years I worked in retail, there have been occasions where the signed credit card receipt was lost. At least once I know that it was (I assume) accidentally taken by the customer. In that case the retailer would have nothing to prove the cc transaction but that doesn't mean the transaction didn't occur.

                                      2. re: babette feasts

                                        I've been guilty of not looking at the slip when I sign. But, this all makes me wonder, if I pay a correct amount, what's to stop a dishonest vendor from changing the amount on me, after the fact?

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          The law? Unfortunately a dishonest vendor probably could do that, and it would take weeks or months for Visa or the fraud investigators or whomever to get your money back. Maybe there are alerts if a vendor does that too often? Don't know.

                                          1. re: babette feasts

                                            Unless I check, which I don't, it could happen. Ugh. I do a cursory glance but haven't looked in detail. But, I could be the person who didn't check and underpaid substantially, too. If I notice, I do bring it up.

                                            1. re: babette feasts

                                              I have on rare occasions needed to challenge a credit card charge, and my experience is that the card company credits my account immediately but adds a note saying that if in the end they decide the charge was justified, they will put it back on my bill.

                                            2. re: chowser

                                              It does happen frequently which is why it is good for people to keep an eye on their cc bills. It is most likely to happen at places where you leave your cc number for future charges--I got double charged for part of a car rental and almost didn't catch it because there were so many charges. Store would have a harder time because people tend to know what they spent and are usually local so would come back if there was a problem. At our store, that is the only time in 2 years that it happened and as I said if we could have contacted the person--which we tried to do but the name was a common one and it was 11 o'clock at night--we would have. But our margins were very low and $720 was too big a chunk to swallow....especially given the week before we'd been given a bad check from a false account printed with correct codes and everything...that was over $300.

                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                True. I tend to be too trusting, and somewhat lazy since we charge almost all of our purchases to get points so our bill gets long.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  Luckily it seems to happen pretty infrequently. And I, like you, tend to be trusting and I find that a more pleasant way to go through life rather than always assuming people are out to cheat me somehow.

                                        2. re: escondido123

                                          A few years ago I bought some Falk copper pans online. About 6 months later I got an email from them (or at least their US distributer) saying that they had forgotten to charge my credit card and if I would please send credit card info again. I was actually embarrassed, thinking that I should have realized and that they probably thought I was trying to take advantage of them (I had just started a temporary position abroad and my paper work was hard to keep track up). I ended up paying, but I doubt they could have done anything to get the money from me if I refused...

                                          1. re: jao204

                                            But you're an honest person so you would never consider doing that. Good for you for doing the right thing.

                                      3. Thank you all for your responses. This may not be a huge manufacturer, but, they give you a discount for picking it up from them. The discount is different each time, and I paid what they asked for.
                                        Second, if it was a huge difference 80 vs 800, I would definitely say something, because I know how hard they work, and also I would hope that someone would do the same for me.
                                        Thank you, but, anything that I may have gone through lately does not affect the way I feel. I have been a good customer and I got a bill paid in full. Like others have said, this is not a large amount. I know that when I have worked in business and helped my friends in their restaurants, that you want to keep the customer happy, whether it be bad service or food, etc.
                                        If I see a mistake I will let the people know, in my favor or theirs. I just think that they have taken it too far, and really just wanted to know how far you think an establishment should go.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: paprkutr

                                          The discount is different every time? Not either a straight percentage or flat fee? Weird. In that case I guess they gave you either 12.50 or 7.50 more pick-up discount than they meant to.

                                          1. re: paprkutr

                                            Did they ever provide you with a breakdown of the amount you owed? That it the least they can do and at that point you can decide if you want to pay it or not.

                                            1. re: paprkutr

                                              Surely if it's just a small amount, you can just pay them? I don't get why you are holding out over such a small amount.

                                              1. re: Muchlove

                                                Hi Muchlove. You owe me $7.50. Let me know how I can receive payment. What, you won't pay me? Because you never agreed to do so? But it's such a small amount... Ok, I think you just answered your own question.

                                                Difficult to tell whether the OP owes the $7.50 or not. Sounds like the request came out of left field. I wouldn't pay it either unless there was documentation laying out the entire charge.

                                                1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                  Congratulations for missing the point. You haven't sold me anything, so why would I pay you anything.

                                                  A good company that the OP has done business with on serveral occassions has contacted them after a transaction to let them know that a mistake was made and a small amount of money is outstanding. Personally I would mutter quietly in annoyance and pay rather than making a huge scene because hey, I actually like buying stuff from that business.

                                                  Credit controllers are notoriously brisk and to the point. So if the OP's only experience of rudeness or whatever was when they chased for payment, I call that a moot point.

                                            2. UPDATE: Just for everyone's information, I called the company today and left a message for the owner. The person handling the situation from the beginning, taking my money and calling me, called me back. I asked them if they could please take a credit card over the phone, and they said yes, and I asked for them to send me a receipt. I then asked them if the owner knew what was going on, and they started to get flustered and backtrack, and it came out that the owner did not know. This person was calling for $7.50. They now didn't want to charge me, as I asked about the owner and didn't want me to stop buying from them, but I insisted that it be charged.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: paprkutr

                                                Yes, I thought that was a tacky way of handling any type of over or under error....you don't call customers on the phone for a few bucks difference. Tacky, tacky. Glad you let the boss know what was going on.

                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                  actually, it isn't at ALL clear to me that the OP did let the boss know, as I read the update. As soon as the boss was mentioned the employee didn't want to charge the person? Seems clear that the employee is trying to keep the boss from knowing, and that would make me suspicious. (could be that the employee doesn't want boss to know he or she screwed up, could be something worse.)

                                                  When I got the call back I would have told the person that I needed to speak to the manager and would not be making any payment until I did.

                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                    Interesting thought. UPDATE: As I said, I called and told the person to charge my credit card and send me the receipt. I just got a note in the mail, thinking it was the receipt I opened it up and it was a note. The person apologized to me for calling me for her mistake, and that the owner was out of town and that when they got back they would be told about the mistake and I shouldn't worry about it.
                                                    I think susan that you might be right, and I should have asked to speak to the owner in the first place and it might have created this havoc.

                                              2. Presumably, when you made the order or picked up the order, they told you what the total cost was. Presumably, you then paid them what they told you the total cost was. Assuming both statements are true and the two amounts matched, I would not pay another cent.

                                                I guess more succintly put, did you actually, regardless of whether they told you you were paid in full or not, pay them the amount they initially asked you to pay? [Edit... wow, that was a really poorly written and not so succint sentence] And if so, how is it they are now trying to collect another $7.50 or $12.50?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                  I picked up the food and paid the invoice for the full amount. I really don't know anything other than a person called me a few weeks later and said that the person had made a mistake and I owed the additional amount. I have dealt with them for several years and the invoice was ready and I paid it. They gave me a discount for picking it up, and just seemed insane to call me for so little money. As mentioned above, the owner didn't even know about this supposedly, and the person is doing this on their own. Hopefully this is over, as I gave them my credit card and told them to charge me the difference.

                                                  1. re: paprkutr

                                                    not that you need my approval, but you did the right thing and went above and beyond what was necessary... if i was invoiced for X and paid for X, there is no way I would pay X+$7.50.

                                                    1. re: paprkutr

                                                      Yes, it all seems fishy that the employee backtracked/etc. Glad you hear you resolved the issue though.