Study: Majority Find Mistakes on Supermarket Receipts

An Isralei supermarket. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Supermarket checkouts are computerized these days, with bar codes connected to databases of prices that automatically register as a product is passed over a bar code reader. Therefore mistakes and errors should be easy to catch and prevent – but apparently that is not the case, according to a new poll that shows that more than three-quarters of shoppers have discovered errors in the amount of money they were supposed to pay on their supermarket checkout receipts.

According to the poll by the Israeli Consumers Union, only 47 percent of Israeli shoppers check their receipts on a regular basis, although 84 percent do so on occasion. Of those, 77 percent said that they had found mistakes on their receipts, mostly for overcharges on products. According to the Union, it’s likely that if all consumers checked their receipts all the time, the level of errors would go up.

Of those who found errors, 68 percent found between one and five problems, but some found more – with 6 percent finding as many as 20 in one shopping experience. The Union did not have information on how many consumers complained and demanded corrections, but said it was unlikely that all, or even most, shoppers did so, given the hassle and time involved in waiting on line and complaining to save a few shekels.

Inflation in Israel is officially at near zero percent, but according to the poll, most supermarket shoppers do not believe that statistic. 71 percent of those polled said that they believed the cost of living had risen over the past year, while only 20 percent said that it had not. Despite that, only 28 percent of shoppers said they compared prices between supermarket chains, despite the easier availability of opportunity to comparison shop, due to a law that was passed last year that establishes a national database of supermarket prices for popular products that is updated daily.

Despite that law and others that have been passed in recent years to protect them, 70 percent of Israeli consumers said that they did not rely on the government to protect their rights, and said they felt unprotected as consumers, and at the mercy of retailers and service providers. In addition, 59 percent said they did not feel they were aware enough of their rights as consumers, the poll showed.

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