Would You Pay Back a Store if They Refunded The Wrong Amount?

Background- I manage a retail store.

On my day off a customer came in requesting a refund, which they were entitled to. Newish guy working that day called me to confirm, I authorised and he processed it.

Unfortunately he processed it at full price when the item had been originally bought at a substantial discount.

We caught the mistake the following day, contacted the customer and made arrangements for them to pay back the difference. They were understanding, a little embarrassed that they hadn't realised initially and paid us back straight away.

All in all it went very well, at least, as much as it can after what could have been a pretty big stuff up.

My question is, what would you do in the same situation?

Poll Options expired

  • 0
    Pay it back partially, or on the condition you get some kind of discount on future purchased
  • 2
    Something else (comment
  • 8
    Tell us to suck it, you're keeping the cash
  • 13
    Take the money and run, dodge phone calls and emails
  • 300
    Graciously pay it back, everyone makes mistakes


  • +3

    How much was the difference in $ terms?

    • +9

      About $150, so it was significant, but not the end of the world.

      • +22

        That seems like enough to ask for it to be paid back, but also enough to send a thank you/apology/we value your business gift if there is an ongoing relationship there (e.g bottle of wine, nice box of chocolates, flowers or something with a handwritten card).

        • +14

          Business gift card/voucher if they have them. Thanks for returning our $150, here's $50 for next time you come in. The business won't lose the full $50 (unless you sell everything at cost) and it will show your appreciation.

      • what was the product

  • +53

    Unfortunately he processed it at full price

    Honestly the store made the mistake and you should have wore that cost, rather than chase the customer to pay back the differance.

    They were understanding, a little embarrassed

    It should have been you that had been embarrassed having to ask the customer to pay money back!

    Put it this way, if you didn't refund them enough, would you chase them to give the money back?

    • +24

      Honestly the store made the mistake and you should have wore that cost, rather than chase the customer to pay back the differance.

      Overpaying anyone doesn't mean they get to keep the money.

      I wouldn't chase the customer because of embarrassment but if retailer would ask me to return them overpayment, I would withous any fuss. I wouldn't go out of my way to notify them of overpayment.

      • +6

        Lubos I think that's a pretty fair way of looking at it.

        It was an awkward call to make and I'm relieved that they were understanding.

        And again, fair- I wouldn't expect someone to come back in and offer to pay us back off their own bat.

        • +11

          Maybe giving them a token of appreciation or something when they rock up to allow you to debit the incorrectly refunded amount.

    • +3

      the store made the mistake and you should have wore that cost

      There are different kinds of mistakes. There are those on a policy/decision level, systemic neglect and then there is human error.

      If you are advocating that the store take responsibility for errors it cannot foresee, ie. employees overriding safeguards and making mistakes, this rule can be easily exploited.

      All you need is an employee to obscenely over-refund. The only difference here is the sum but principally, it is the same scenario.

      This is human error and the remedy is simple, simply undo the transaction and redo it the correct way.

    • +4

      Honestly the store made the mistake and you should have wore that cost, rather than chase the customer to pay back the differance.

      Then don't complain when you accidentally overpay and they keep the money.

    • +3

      Honestly the store made the mistake and you should have wore that cost

      I couldn't disagree more, you just like everyone can make mistakes. I highly doubt you would be so gracious if for example you mistakenly paid more for a purchase.

      • +10

        I couldn't disagree more

        That is your choice, but in business, there are certain 'costs' that are just part of doing business. Staff giving out incorrect change for example is one of them, stock loss is another. Yeah it happens, whoops gave the customer a $20 instead of a $10 during a brain fart moment.

        If it was picked up in store before they left, fair enough. But the fact they called up this customer the next day and got them to give the money back is just poor form when it was THEM that made the mistake in the first place.

        We don't really have a dollar amount, was it $20 extra the customer got or was it $200 or $2000?

        Lets say it was $40, in my business I wouldn't embarrass myself to call up the customer and ask for the money back. Why create a bad customer relationship over $40 for a mistake I did.

        Its funny, this site is built around 'cheap' prices and deals that are clearly incorrect pricing, so I'm shocked at the amount of people saying that would give it back, but yet when a retailer won't honor a clearly incorrect price, the world ends and they want their product.

        • -1

          I had a long reply all ready but, I can't be bothered.

          If you want to go full Karen and refuse to return money that was gained erroneously then that's your choice I guess.

          • +2


            full Karen and refuse to return money

            Point me to the bit that said I wouldn't return the money?

            can't be bothered

            Bit like my point, which is what the shop owner should have done after they worked out THEIR mistake the next day! It is what I WOULD have done after working out 'we' made a mistake like that with the customer.

          • +3

            @Ryanek: that isn't even close to the definition of karen

        • Did you miss the comment at the top where OP said it was a $150.00 difference?

          The point you two are arguing about is entirely subjective. The question is: "How much money is worth asking for it back?". For one person with 12 franchise pizza shops who accidentally gave someone an extra pizza, I would imagine they wouldn't care much and just write it off. For a mum and dad hardware store trying to compete with Bunnings, that threshold is going to be far far lower.

          So there's no right and wrong answer here. You're talking about how the company should eat the cost, but what if eating that cost puts them in the red for the week or something?

          • +2


            Did you miss the comment at the top where OP said it was a $150.00 difference?

            At the time of posting my comment, no I hadn't see the OP comment on this. Would have been handy if they included this in the OP!

            You're talking about how the company should eat the cost

            Goodwill goes a long way in business rather than being 'right' and using my examples above BEFORE I knew the price diff as the OP left that out of the post, yeah for $40-50, the business should suck that up.

            For $150, It really depends on a lot of things. If this was a customer that regularly spends money in the store? Then a quick phone call saying we over refunded you, but please keep it as a gesture of goodwill and look forward to seeing you soon in store. You'll soon have that money coming back in your doors.

            Honestly as you said yourself

            So there's no right and wrong answer here

            No but there are answers that create goodwill and those that don't. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, you don't want to be creating unhappy customers if you can help it.

      • you just like everyone can make mistakes.

        Like the taxi drivers at Sydney Airport, leaving international arrivals, and doing the long loop, despite me telling them to go past domestic.

        "Oh sorry, did take the wrong way"

    • I've replied to a couple of comments now- the amount was around $150.

      I'm trying to be a bit cagey with the details here just in case anyone involved is on OzB, don't want to inadvertently out or upset anyone so there is a little bit of nuance missing from the situation.

      • what type of product is it, alcohol, electronics,

    • -1

      @JimmyF "Put it this way, if you didn't refund them enough, would you chase them to give the money back?"

      This is not the right question - rather the question that should be asked is:
      Put it this way "if you didn't refund them enough, and the customer called the next day and asked for the shortfall of the refund money, would you give it to them?"

      Of course you would, and it's the fairer comparison. Just like it is perfectly reasonable to ask the customer for the difference back with the shoe on the other foot.
      Is it embarrassing? yes a bit…. Would you do it for $5,$10 or even $50 - probably not. But I don't think its unfair provided they don't have to go out of their way too much to pay it back.

  • +12

    I won a competition and I asked if they could upgrade the prize and I pay the difference (paid $900 in addition). They agreed, which was really nice. The salesperson took my cc# over the phone and I arranged my friend to collect it when he went pass the company. A few weeks after I have the shiny nice new printer. I got a call from the company. They said they couldnt process my credit card. (they got 1 number wrong). I already have the goods for a few weeks! I just gave them the correct card#, thinking I wonder if someone would just ignore them.

  • +12

    I think most people will return the difference because what you've described is a good retail experience.

    It's easier to exercise integrity in a pleasant scenario.

    • +1

      Thank you!!

  • +12

    If I was purchasing from a small business, I would definitely pay it back but if it was a large retailer I wouldn't be obligated to. I know that a lot of people would decline to pay back the difference, so the customer in this case was a very nice customer.

    • yep also are we saying it's for
      a mobile case that's 5 bucks and u charge 1 buck
      a Lego for 50 and u charge 10
      a switch that's 400 and u charge 100
      Mac Pro for 4000 u charge 1000
      high yield Merc amg 100k for 10k

      • The amount was around $150. They had purchased a $300ish item at half price.

        • So did they have to come back in to the store to hand over the money or was it by bank transfer? If they had to come back to the store I would have either taken off a small amount, given them a bit of store credit or a cheaper product as a gift for the inconvenience.

        • I returned an egg cooker, and got it replaced with a new one, and since the new one was on special, I got the difference refunded.

        • there we go, we got somewhere.

    • +2

      100%- they were a nice person, I'd like to think we gave them a good experience up until this point.

    • It is interesting that you say this. Got me thinking and I thinking I'm in the same boat - I'd definitely repay a small business.
      If it were the major retail chains (whether it be the Big 3 groceries or their hardware or big box retail subsidiaries), I'd probably be more hesitant given I pour thousands and thousands into each of them year after year - they can afford it, and they pay youngsters to work there (not a bad thing) but it is cheap for them and they make mistakes, so sometimes they have to live with that to keep recurring customers happy year after year (give them a little win here and there).

    • Stealing is stealing no matter the size of the business.

  • +10

    They knew fine well what was going on.

    • If so they did a solid job of acting embarrassed.

      • 100% they knew, they were embarrassed because they got caught trying to get away with it

        • +1

          They should not have picked up the phone !

        • +1

          chances are - probably not 100% but maybe 50/50 depending on the person - "oops, how silly, I didn't notice that extra $150 - how embarrassing", (…I'd better overplay it on the phone if I get caught out)!

        • Ayyup, and thinking back to my law school days, if they realised then and there that it was too much change but still kept it, it would be stealing. If they didn't realise until they got home, it's not stealing. Definitely don't want to admit you noticed in the shop.

          • @EhhSteavOhDeav: There is no way to tell if they realised or not. Even if they realised they would pretend they didn't.

            • @crazyboy: Well yeah there's no way to tell, unless you admit it like an idiot. Like if you get a call saying 'we gave you too much change, can we have it back' and you say 'haha yeah I noticed, thanks dummies'. But if you just say 'really? I didn't notice, but I'd like to keep it' then you're in the clear.

  • +14

    I once bought a number of heavily reduced items from Tesco (UK). I think I bought 6 of them at 30 pounds each, reduced from 100.

    I decided to return them and the cashier rang me up a refund of 600 and told me to insert my card. I made the decision to tell the cashier she had mis-calculated the refund and she was extremely grateful for me spotting the error. I didn't feel it was worth her copping the consequences and maybe losing her job

    • I am pretty sure you were worrying too much. Tesco couldnt care less even if you steal 600 pounds of products from them.

    • +1

      If Tesco were a person, and you were Tesco, in spirit somehow, then Tesco would have kept their mouth shut in that situation.

    • You sir have my respect.

  • +4

    I've been in that position before (on the business side but correcting someone elses mistake). I had no problem calling the customer to discuss and they were happy to correct it. My thoughts are if you are an honest business and have treated the customer right during the whole process including the original sales part, then most customers will do right by you.

    • Completely agree mate, and my experience is that most people are fundamentally honest, or at least not conniving enough to try & get away with it once it has been addressed.

    • +3

      I think most people would, if it was addressed well.

      I also think most people would take the money and run if given the opportunity. If you don't have any need to purchase from that business again and if they never contact you about it then you're off the hool from everyone but your own conscience right?

    • +6

      In my experience as a business owner (ie. I am party to more transactions than the average person), people are generally honest when the relationship is neutral or better.

    • +5

      Just FYI, us Ozbargainers like to save money, but we're not all a**holes here.

  • It would depend on the amount.

    If the amount was extremely trivial where the operating costs to process would exceed the difference gained back then don't bother. Differences of less than $1 should be considered written off.

    Higher amounts would have to consider what kind of continued business relationship you have e.g. say person has account with the store with frequent and large purchases, let them keep it given their loyalty and repeat business.

    • In this case it was an amount worth chasing up, and the person in question is a repeat customer but certainly not a regular and not a high dollar value customer.

      In this case I think an unfortunate situation was handled pretty well by all involved. At best we maintain the relationship, at worst we lose a little bit of goodwill but don't suffer major reputational damage.

      • If I'm dealing with a business that's willing to admit they've made a mistake to a customer, irrespective of whether it's to my benefit or theirs, that will strengthen the relationship.

        Your loss of goodwill may not be necessarily correct!

  • -1

    To put a spin this, i bought a used computer for $xxx.xx amount from a large online retailer with shopfront, didnt have original package. Staff brings out the umarked box. Pay for it and go home, there is 2 computers instead of one. Should i return the extra pc?.

    • +1


      That is gross negligence on the part of the staff. It's not a failure of business that someone doesn't have the common sense to look into an unmarked box before handing it out.

    • +1

      Should you? Yes.

      Will you? Different question altogether.

  • +2

    Depends, 99% of the time, yes, or if it is a significant amount, always.

  • +1

    Certainly for a small retailer. In the past I’ve looked at a bill and told them they might want to have another go at the bill because they’d missed something on it.

    The classic was a restaurant where I was using an entertainment card. There was a mixup because alcohol was not meant to be discounted and when they fixed it up they took the alcohol off altogether. I pointed this out and third time was the charm.

  • I would look at the receipt and ensure that I refund them the amount they paid for it, first of all. I guess at least now you know to assert to whoever asks the question to only pay back what they paid or whatever your policy is to prevent this from happening again as I'm sure not everyone would be willing to pay it back, so it's the best way to cover yourself.

    But since it's from the customer perspective I'd probably pay it back.

    • +2

      Normally we'd issue the refund directly from the original receipt, which wasn't available in this case.

      Under normal circumstances this shouldn't happen, but this was a slightly unusual situation dealt with by an inexperienced staff member.

      Looking on the bright side it's exposed a loophole we didn't realise in our POS system and highlighted a gap in our training.

  • +1

    Graciously pay it back since karma is a bitch.

  • +1

    Yes and I paid back $280~ OfficeWorks paid me by mistake and the girl who made this mistake was like WTF! Why your back ☺️ On the other hand company I work for paid us salary 2 times in last 1 year and every time paid extra we get intimidating email demanding money back in 3 days period.

    • +2

      Could be wrong but a bit of google searching shows that your employer is required to get your agreement to a (written & signed) repayment arrangement when that happens. You have to give it back sure, but if they're going to be a dick about it with intimidating letters then say you've spent it and they can take out deductions for the next 12 months until it is paid off. Companies generally won't inform employees of their rights when it might go against the company.

      And that takes me back to the original posters scenario - I'd pay the $150 back if I were the customer - because I'd assume that if I didn't the manager would take the $150 straight out of the pay of the employee who made the error instead. It might be illegal, but still happens all the time. That's not aimed at the OP who seems very reasonable, but it's something I've seen happen lots of times in retail and hospitality.

    • Now that you mention that, there was a time where Officeworks somehow paid a friend of mine $200 to buy an external hard drive. Whatever the Officeworks girl did on the computer, it somehow equaled her handing my friend $200 cash and a receipt for the hard drive. It didn't matter how he tried to explain it to her, she just didn't understand what she did wrong. It got the point where she was becoming rude about it, so we just left.

  • +6

    I've called up 28degrees (latitude) twice because they over paid me on a claim. (ticked the have claimed previously and they didn't check). Both times the manager said to keep the money and thanked me for the honesty. (probably about $300 worth - phone and camera). Monies and a clear conscience.

  • It’s you who should be embarrassed for making the mistake. Luckily your customers were good enough to understand. I don’t care about your company but worried the 150$ might be taken from your employee’s pay. 😆

    I would pay you back the 150$ because that money isn’t mine but as a good manager, give your customer some store credit as a gesture of goodwill.

  • +1

    A bit off topic but … I booked an overseas hotel, on their website. A favourite hotel, in a city with not many choices. While staying there, my wife and I went to the restaurant for a quick dinner after a tiring day. Wanting to just order some soup and toast, the maître insisted our booking included the buffet. If we order soup, we pay, buffet is free. I told him he was wrong, three times, but he insisted. So we had a little bit of buffet and went to bed. On checkout, they demand we pay for the buffet. I explained. They called the manager, repeat explain, call the restaurant, repeat explain, blah blah, wasted an hour, finally they accept. We get home and start getting emails from the hotel’s finance department demanding payment. So our favourite hotel is now terra avoidus. And they lost a regular customer. Lose, lose.

    • Which hotel is this, please?

  • I just yesterday received a $120 car accessory from a local supplier that was previously declared lost by Australia Post (yep, Sunday delivery!)
    PayPal account was refunded by supplier 3 days ago. Goods took 6 weeks for delivery (same city), including lodging an ‘Undelivered Item’ claim with Australia Post. Your (moral) thoughts on my next steps?

    • Morality is dependent on you as an individual. Can you keep the item and the refund without losing sleep? If so, keep both.

      Will you have second thoughts and worry about your actions? Return the money.

      Despite affirmations, businesses typically do not have any ethics. Their (rightfully so) goal is to make money. They don't care about you whatsoever.

      At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with what actions you took.

      • Actually, I only got the refund because after they agreed to supply another, they never told me it was out of stock when I chased them for the tracking details. Only by requesting a refund did they then confirm the replacement was out of stock. So no, I won’t be paying.

        • They already wasted enough of your time. You were chasing them and wasting your time and they consistently lied to that they will supply another when in reality there was no stock.

          Time = $$

          You did the right thing here.

    • +1

      This happened with an Amazon item with me. It was a week or two past the due date so I messaged them asking whether they had any way of tracking the package. Instead they just refunded me. Package arrived about a week later and I replied to the same email asking if they wanted to arrange to redebit the amount … I never heard back and they didn’t reverse the refund.
      A local company is likely less able to absorb losses, though. And given the pandemic, it’s not like the slow delivery was likely their fault (especially if you’re in Melbourne). It’d be interesting to know whether they had already been reimbursed themselves through a claim with AusPost.

      • +1

        Amazon is awesome

    • Auspost will reimburse the sender up to $100 for uninsured parcels once they are declared lost by them, so even if you wanna return the money, it really should go back to Auspost. However as you have no contract with Auspost and Auspost did not pay you, they certainly wont accept your payment. If you decide to give the money to the business, do make sure they pass it on to Auspost.

      TDLR: Just keep the f×××ing money.

  • +1

    “The Store” is not some faceless nothing. Also there will be people there who can get a lot of heat for a mistake like that. You should do the right thing.

    Now if it was a bank….

  • If it's substantial amount (like your case, $150) and if I expect it to be a simple process to pay back - definitely yes. If it's a few dollars or if I expect complications - no. Simply because my time calling and organising that refund is more valuable to me. After doing so a few times in the past, I realised that for some unorganised businesses it takes hours on the phone or in emails to actually process the refund; I don't want to waste that time to give somebody a favor.

  • Large amount or where the retailer had treated me well, yes. I certainly don't want anybody getting in trouble in their place of employment.


    Small amount or where the entire experience of getting a refund in the first place was a ridiculous hassle, no chance. I have already paid more than that in time and inconvenience.

  • Watch the pendulum carefully… you are getting sleepy and sleepy…

    I am now speaking with the "real" person… are you the Manager? … are you the Customer?

    You seem to be possessed with two conflicting identities…

  • +2

    So only about 10% of respondents are honest…

    If it was a small business, fair.

    If you got a refund from somewhere like Harvey Norman, 100% bullshit you'd say a single thing.

    • Whether it is a small business or a large company, in this example there is still a human being who is likely in more trouble if the business can’t get the money back.

      • Not at all. It's not like the till will be out; all they did is scan the item and provide the refund.

        • Fair point.
          Earlier this year I purchased something that was $248 however the attendant put it through as $2.48 and handed the eftpos terminal to me. I handed it back and said “I am happy to pay that price, but I don’t think your boss would be happy”. She replied that she was the boss and thanked me for being honest.
          I really would like to think most people would do the right thing, regardless of the size of the business.

          • @loulou1: Yeah, I think in that instance there'd be an imbalance in a ledger somewhere and someone would probably get their arse kicked over it.

    • Already paying the cost of honesty by adding 10% GST to international imported items. It needs to be fair, right Garry Harvey?

  • I do it for small business but when it comes to Coles and woollies I'm allow be naughty :)

  • Wouldn't it be even illegal to say no if you are asked to return money that are not yours?

  • I had to go and do a return after a sales person applied an incorrect discount. I was better off by about $130, but felt bad about keeping it.

    The store manager was extremely surprised that I came back.

    Edit: reason why I went back was because I was afraid the customer service girl might lose her job because of her mistake.

  • I would pay it back if I noticed the error or you called me, but I agree with others who have said it was inappropriate for you to call the customer.

  • +1

    Mama didn't raise no OzBrigand.
    Pay it back, laugh about it with them.
    Insist you're now their favourite customer.
    Be correct.

  • Would probably only pay it back if the store realised and came after me for it. If the store paid enough attention to realise their mistake and follow it up, no problem will pay back, otherwise I'll take it and move on. Has happened many times before. If it was a small business, I would go back, but I don't lose sleep that Ikea lost 50 bucks etc.

    On the other side of the fence, I've worked retail where a new employee was taking payment for $1000+ worth of computer goods, I heard the EFTPOS machine beep, usually meaning the transaction failed (happened a lot because of payments over 1000). But he simply stapled the declined receipt to the invoice and sent them on their way. I was helping other customers at the time so didn't have a chance to check on what was happening.
    Afterwards I went and looked at the receipt on our copy of the invoice and yep, there was the declined transaction. I dobbed him in, my boss called the customer to come back and pay, and the new employee was fired…

    • What about a situation where the store overcharges a customer who didn't check the value correctly and still signed or entered a pin to approve said transaction?
      Many years ago when I was running a store, we had a $2800 sale that the sales person accidently entered an extra zero, $28,000.
      Customer had a black Amex card and was approved like it was a normal transaction.
      Settling up for the day and found we were quite over, would you expect the store to chase and find the customer and return the difference to them or is it bad luck as they should have checked the amount charged at the time before approving the transaction?

      • If the customer noticed it and cares about it, he/she simply clicked a few buttons and the money goes back to him and you get a chargeback fee. I would definitely partially refund it straightaway. Why do you need to chase and find the customer?

        • OK this particular example was like 15-17 years ago so things have changed in the way we bank and can so easily chargeback transactions.
          But what if they didn't notice it? What if it wasn't disputed?
          Just shifting where the loss is from the business to the customer to see if people have the same sympathies.

  • I'd return ASAP, just because I wont be able to sleep at night.

  • +1

    If it were Harvey Norman, I wouldn't take it back. Gerry Harvey wouldn't drive to my home to give me back $150 I mistakenly gave him, he'd sooner slap you in the face than do a chore like that, so why should I do the same for him?

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