NEXT time you are asked if you would like a receipt say yes and be sure to check it.
Contactless technology that allows us to pay with a wave of a card seems to be resulting in a lower take-up of receipts and this becomes a problem when there is a query about how much was charged and what for.
If you fail to obtain proof of the transaction amount and what was provided and later discover the amount to be higher than expected on your bank statement, you will not have the evidence needed to dispute the matter.
Restaurants adding tips or “gratuity charges” without authorisation are one issue reported to Consumer Protection. The same allegation has been reported by users of taxis.
Another potential problem could be a mistake with a digit on a card payment machine resulting in an overcharge, such as $30 instead of $3.
Those paying with cash they may find they have been slugged with a merchant service fee that is not applicable because they did not pay by card.
New South Wales Fair Trading recently issued a warning urging the public to carefully check their bills, pointing to a recent case in which a consumer detected significant errors in two bills in the space of a week, saving themselves nearly $400 out of bills totalling $1,000.
Don’t assume bills, whether for home loans, utilities, credit cards, services or supermarket purchases are free of error.
Consumers need to play detective with their accounts. Check your bank statements against receipts. Interrogation can often save you serious money.
All bills and accounts are worthy of scrutiny. The NSW case cited significant errors in a mortgage account and phone bill. When the providers were contacted, they admitted their errors and agreed to reverse the incorrect charges. Just because many payment systems are automated does not mean there is no margin for error.
Read your bills carefully when they arrive. Make sure you haven’t been overcharged or been double billed and contact the trader or your credit card provider if you pick up any errors. They will usually help resolve incorrect billing.
Scanning errors can occur in transactions such as grocery shopping. Read your receipts as soon as you get them and let the cashier know if you detect a mistake.
In addition, check subscription renewal notices to make sure you are only paying for the correct renewal period.
Challenge unsubstantiated price increases on subscriptions, insurances and other products and services.
Consumers should feel comfortable challenging businesses about bills. It pays to speak up and question any items you do not recall paying for or do not understand.
A savvy consumer is an assertive consumer.
Keep your receipts and keep your cool when dealing with traders who may have overcharged or double charged you.
Credit card fraud is also something to which everyone should be alert. Thieves can charge to your card by simply using your card numbers and expiration date.
Don’t forget to check automatic or direct debits for errors too.
If you don’t like keeping hold of dockets, why not download our free app iShopWA onto your Apple or Android device and use it to store copies of receipts.
Anyone who believes a WA business is consistently or deliberately overcharging or taking unauthorised tips can report the matter to Consumer Protection for further investigation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 1300 30 40 54.