Money Moral Dilemma: Should I return the overpayment?

Former_MSE_Lee Former MSE Posts: 343 Forumite
edited 19 October 2010 at 7:44PM in MoneySaving polls
Please give this MoneySaver the benefit of your advice...
Should I return the overpayment?
After returning from holiday, I went back to Tesco's to exchange left-over Euros and redeem the remainder of the money on our cash passport (prepaid card). Over a week later, I was contacted by the employee who served me, to say he had accidentally done the cash passport redemption twice, overpaying me by £65. I didn't notice this at the time as we were unsure how much we had left on it. The employee accepted liability and said I was under no obligation to repay the difference, but if I didn't he would be in trouble with his boss.
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  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Forumite Posts: 2,175
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker Name Dropper
    I'd explain to him that while I sympathised, I wasn't aware of the error and would like to discuss it with his boss.

    If it was over a week later, three things crop up in my mind:

    1) How did he get my details?
    2) Why did he notice over a week later? Why was he scrutinising all the prepaid card records for errors? Surely the person checking for errors would have notified his boss?
    3) Why wasn't he quizzed about it when they counted the till at the end of the day and found it to be down by £65?

    Ultimately, I'd be smelling a rat - as he was acting as a representative of the company, I'd want the company to ask for it back, not just him.
  • muffin_man
    muffin_man Forumite Posts: 242
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    edited 19 October 2010 at 10:35PM
    I imagine his boss does know about it, otherwise why would the employee be worrying about getting into trouble for it. I would imagine it is his boss that has told him to try to get the money back. As for it being over a week later, these sort of things may only crop up in weekly reports.

    If you didn't have the £65 to start with, then it is no real loss to you to give it back (I agree, subject to some sort of ratification from management). Whereas, not giving it back is likely to cost the employee at least £65, which he probably hasn't got to spare.

    When it comes to greed over human decency, there really shouldn't be any question.
  • ssimon
    ssimon Forumite Posts: 44 Forumite
    But if he got underpaid £65, and the employee noticed a week later would the employee have phoned him to offer him the £65 he had underpaid him? Probably not so I know what i'd have done!
  • Romola
    Romola Forumite Posts: 6 Forumite
    If I had no way of checking whether or not there actually had been an overpayment, I wouldn't even consider paying it back. However, if I'd checked and was sure that there had been an overpayment, I would repay it, no doubt about it, it's pretty horrible not to, in my opinion. The time elapsed and whether or not the employee got in trouble is irrelevant.

    I assume that your phone number was taken at the time of the transaction? If I was his boss, he would be in trouble anyway, no matter whether he had made the mistake with someone with honour or without.
  • pennypinchUK
    pennypinchUK Forumite Posts: 383 Forumite
    First of all, I smell a rat here, as I would be surprised if a company like Tesco would require an employee to phone a customer with such a request. I'd have anticipated at least his/her supervisor to call. But assuming it's true, shame on Tesco for 1) putting an employee on the spot in such a way, and 2) sanctioning the use of emotional blackmail.

    Nevertheless, we know that many people follow a general rule of thumb that if they're undercharged/over-reimbursed by a big company it's fair game, but if it's done by a small company run by the owner they'd do the right thing and repay the money or let the shop know they'd made an error.

    Here, it's pretty easy to see whether a mistake has been made - the store can provide a record of the transaction. So if you keep the money you've obtained it by false means, and you should return it.

    I can already anticipate lots of people will say "It was their mistake, and it's my gain". However, if it was the other way round and they'd not received enough money back I'm sure they'd be the first to kick and scream. Lots of arguments about double-standards to follow on this thread....
  • captain_Lockheed
    captain_Lockheed Forumite Posts: 1 Newbie
    I can't believe there's any question here!
    Does anyone out there subscribe to the simple concept of "honesty first" anymore?
    It's like when you are in a shop and the shopkeeper gives you too much change. You notice the overpayment and give it back. It's the right thing to do.
    Unless it was a bank that overpaid you, in which case, the rules are clearly different... Then you'd want to tell em to knock it off the 3000 or so quid that every man woman and child living in this country gave 'em recently.
  • Joseph_Farthing
    Joseph_Farthing Forumite Posts: 1 Newbie
    I used to work for Tesco (retail and internal security) and this seems way out. Till reports are checked daily and staff error is never shifted on to the customer.

    Either this is a manager going off script quite badly and asking an assistant to make the call, or the assistant is taking matters into their own hands.

    I recommend ignoring this one!
  • rockitup
    rockitup Forumite Posts: 677 Forumite
    Doing the decent thing also comes into my mind...

    Surely each and everyone of us makes mistakes and if I was in the position of having gained 65 quid whether it be from a company or a poorly paid employee then I would give it back.
  • nitrofunction
    nitrofunction Forumite Posts: 14 Forumite
    I had something similar happen MANY moons ago!

    I was getting a Road Tax licence for my car, but only could afford 6 months. However, the clerk at the Post Office gave me a 12 month disc in error; and I didn't notice until I got home.

    Well, the Post Office did try to ring me about it, but it was when I at work and so messages were left on my answering machine.

    As times was hard and money was short for me then, I ignored them and hoped they would go away!

    Anyway, a few evenings later, a knock on my door, and the poor sheepish-looking clerk was there with (I assumed) her parents!

    She offered me the 6 month disc, which we then swapped . . .

    Did I feel better for this?

  • Enterprise_1701C
    Enterprise_1701C Forumite Posts: 23,409
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Photogenic Mortgage-free Glee!
    If you were overpaid by £65, surely you would notice. I would definitely repay if I realised I had been overpaid, £65 is a lot to someone working in these booths and there is a high risk they would have to repay it themselves.
    What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare
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