1 The Deli Person's Mistake | The Billfold

The Deli Person’s Mistake

Mallory Ortberg: Mike Dang, I have a WWYD for the Billfold.

Mike Dang: Ooooh, what is it?

Mallory: So on Friday I was leaving work and stopped by a Safeway to pick up some weekend groceries. And I decided to also get dinner to eat in the car so I could start writing as soon as I got back. The dinner I chose was a bag of salad and four chicken wings. So I bought the groceries and went to my car and immediately ate the chicken wings right out of the deli case bag.

They were pretty okay wings. Not much meat, but pretty okay.

ANYHOW. I look at the deli sticker that the woman who apportioned them out had placed on them and realized she missed a decimal point and charged me for four POUNDS of chicken wings—not four chicken wings. So what should have been two dollars was instead ten dollars, but the thought of walking back inside with an empty, torn-open deli bag (that was actually full of bones so not empty at all), and demanding the friendly cashier who had served me give me eight dollars while tacitly admitting I had just INHALED four chicken wings in my car before even looking at a receipt, was more than I could bear. So I left!

Mike: Hmmm! I mean my quick answer is that it really depends on the amount of money, and what that money means to you. Because $8 could be a lot to some people.

Mallory: Eight dollars. And also, because, I think, chicken wings are a “cheap” food, so it hurts more to get overcharged eight dollars for chicken wings than for, say, a very good steak.

I might have been likelier to get the change if it had happened at a restaurant, but to get out of my car and walk back inside with an empty bag felt exhausting and shameful.

Mike: Oh, not at all! Honestly, that’s funny, but the person who made the mistake would have also felt ashamed and embarrassed, so you would have been on an even playing field.

Yesterday, when I was at the grocery store, the cashier overcharged me by $1.60. She rung up tangerines instead of clementines. And I said something.

Mallory: Yeah, had I noticed it at the time, I’d definitely have mentioned it. I should have checked.

Mike: She said she was new and didn’t know all the produce codes yet. So, it’s helpful! Or else the mistake could be made again.

Mallory: That’s true. I also bought a lot of groceries though, so the total price didn’t seem unusually high.

Mike: Do you still have the bag? You know, if you still had the bag, and if I lived in San Francisco, I would go into the store with you and sort it out.

Mallory: Still have a ripped-up deli bag with chicken bones three days after the fact?

Mike: Hahaha.

Mallory: Mike, what kind of hoarder do you take me for?

Mike: That’d be kind of amazing.

Mallory: That is a disgusting question. You are disgusting.


Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments. Photo: Izik



46 Comments / Post A Comment

DickensianCat (#971)

What a cop out, Evil Melis would have hissed and thrown the chicken bones in the cashier’s face!

melis (#42)

@DickensianCat Whoa whoa whoa, it’s evil Melis, not “enemy of the people” Melis. All Melises are a friend to the workers of the world.

@melis evil melis would have devoured the chicken bones as well. COME ON!

DickensianCat (#971)

@redheaded&crazy you are correct, of course.

BananaPeel (#1,555)

You could have waited a bit, or just driven home, and then called in to the store and said “I just got home and was looking at my receipt…I bought X but I think I was accidentally charged for Y.” and then just be quiet because I bet that happens all the time with the stuff they have to weigh so they must have a procedure for that and the person on the other end will start talking. I highly doubt they’d need proof in the form of the empty packaging.
Maybe they’d leave a gift card or something for you at customer service. Also, so what if you did just eat them in your car? Maybe you were on your lunch break so you had to eat quickly! They don’t know.

I wonder how much money over the years I’ve lost due to just wanting to avoid a potential awkward situation.

GOD I want chicken wings now.

(Every part of this story rings so true to my life except for the part where you only bought four chicken wings?! That is serious chicken wing restraint.)

(I also don’t understand how 4 lb of chicken wings would come out to only $10 but I can maybe accept that “shit be cheaper in America”?)

@redheaded&crazy god damn it the chicken wings in that picture look so succulent and delicious.

Mike Dang (#2)

@redheaded&crazy I know, right? I may be already be scheming something for lunch. THANKS MALLORY.

@redheaded&crazy Chicken is indeed cheaper in America than in Canada. There is a system of supply management in place regulating the poultry industry in Canada and so our prices are indeed higher. $10 for 4lbs of chicken wings does sound crazy cheap though!

@This is my new user name This finally explains why all the American “budget cooking” sites post recipes with chicken breasts, when in my world $9/lb is not budget food.

Renleigh (#2,110)

@redheaded&crazy For real, now I’m trying to figure out where to get chicken wings for dinner.

@MilesofMountains Yes, chicken prices are often significantly higher in Canada. It does add certain benefits to the system, but the drawback of higher consumer prices sucks when you are buying groceries.

blueblazes (#1,798)

@MilesofMountains Did I read that correctly? $9/lb? For chicken?! There would be rioting in the streets down here.

@blueblazes Yeah, it’s usually about $16-$18/kg, which I think is about $9 per lb. That’s for chicken breast, though, thighs and whole chickens are cheaper. I think whole chickens are about $10/kg? I end up eating a lot of pork instead.

@blueblazes Yeah I would $9/lb (or at least somewhere near that) for boneless skinless chicken breast is a fairly common price for me as well.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@blueblazes In oz it’s about $18/kg for free range chicken in chain supermarkets – the factory chicken is anywhere from $7/kg for the really rock-bottom stuff at the butcher.

RocketSurgeon (#747)

I’d like to think I probably would have said something, since I was still at the store. I’m cheap like that and not easily embarrassed. But my laziness might well have taken over.

The only reason I endure going out to watch the Super Bowl each year is because the bar down the street has amazing wings. It’s Super Wing Sunday for me.

j-i-a (#746)

brb eating nine thousand chicken wings

MuffyStJohn (#280)

I’m sorry all I heard was chicken wings.

WIWHD: Leave the bag of eaten wings in the car. Walk back in and say to the original cashier, “Oh hi, sorry, I think you charged me for 4 pounds of wings instead of 4 wings.” She’ll likely remember you and the bag of 4 wings and won’t confront you when she notices the BBQ sauce all over your face. If she does, tell her you have the bag in the car and will be right back. Walk out and then never go to that grocery store ever again.

One time I bought a bunch of chicken from the grocery store, and when I opened it up to put it in freezer bags it was clearly completely rotten — like stink-up-the-whole-house rotten. So I asked my housemate to drive me back to the store. He was like, “Should you take the chicken?” and I said “No that’s disgusting, why would they want rotten chicken back? And also what kind of person leaves the store, drives home, then drives back and says their chicken was rotten as some kind of scam? Does that really happen?”

Lo and behold, they refused to give me a refund without seeing the offending chicken. So we went home, got the chicken out of the trash, and brought it back to them. I got my refund though, that’s for for sure!

ThatJenn (#916)

@stuffisthings That… is horrible and disgusting and I never want to buy chicken again. (I haven’t bought raw chicken from the store in like two years anyway, but wow.)

faustbanana (#2,376)

@stuffisthings I had to return a chicken once, but not because it was bad. My mom broke her kneecap (?) and I became her gofer, which was charming for about a day before it started turning into retribution for all that “child-rearing” she had done for me.

She was planning to make fried chicken and sent me to the store. Told me to get a chicken. No specifics. So I got the damn chicken. When I get it home I’m informed that “this is a roaster. I need a fryer.” What happens why you fry a roaster? I guess we’ll never know cause I had to drive all the way back to the store to exchange one chicken for another. I got chicken juice on the customer service desk :(

lizard (#2,615)

@stuffisthings well i mean if you want the money back its not so crazy to actually prove it.

@lizard I guess I’m used to my regional grocery chain back home, which was all about customer service / the customer is always right. Rather than “bring us your heap of rotten chicken, since you are probably a thief trying to defraud us of $10 through an elaborate scam.”

lizard (#2,615)

@stuffisthings true i mean its def gross to haul them back but seeing the chicken might prompt them to go clear the rest of it off the shelf

lizard (#2,615)

well yesterday most of you said it was ok to just drive off without paying at the drive-thru so maybe chalk it up to karma lol

melis (#42)


Theda Baranowski (#2,989)

Only tangentially related, but when I did my thankfully brief stint as a Target cashier, I was told I would NEVER FORGET the produce code for bananas. This was in October.

I have no clue what the hell the produce code for bananas is.

amirite (#2,677)

@Theda Baranowski
4011! It was the first produce code I memorized, because the ones are like two bananas.
I have not been a cashier for over 10 years.

@Theda Baranowski I was told the same thing when I was a grocery store cashier nearly ten years ago (eek).

It’s 4011.

Also, some plums are 4442 and some are 4444 and you gotta be careful not to mix them up or customers will go nuts. Not that I know this from experience.

Edit: Ha! I was too slow. I was just told I’d remember it because everyone buys bananas. And they do.

94011! 94011! 94011!

That’s organic bananas, at least. I always self check out so I know this. Once, I was buying groceries with a friend and just breezed through that part and he was like, “You have the code for organic bananas memorized?” I said, proudly, “YUP!”

Also, self check-out is good for giving you that moment right after you’re done and before you pay where you can look over the screen and make sure you’re not getting charged too much for something.

@Reginal T. Squirge As long as Mr Polka Dots is bagging, I’m the jerk that watches the screen as they ring everything up.

@Theda Baranowski I have never been a cashier at any sort of store that sells bananas but I DO know the produce code for bananas and doubt I will ever forget it, thanks to self check out.

Renleigh (#2,110)

@down the rabbit hole Me too! I’ve never been a cashier but the banana code is ingrained in my memory forever.

Megano! (#124)

$8 is a lot of money for me, and I probably would have noticed as soon as I got the bill, cuz I would have been like HOLD UP THERE IS NO WAY THIS IS RIGHT. I have done this but I usually get back in line if it’s really long.

Jellybish (#560)

I had a similar situation recently, but instead of being overcharged, they sold me undercooked chicken. I called when I got home and explained what happened, not being willing to drive all the way back to the store. The store manager told me to write her name on the receipt and bring it back on my next visit for a refund.

julebsorry (#1,572)

Oh wow, I’m much cheaper than I realized. Not only would I have definitely gone back to get a refund – today, at lunch, I noticed the cashier charged me an additional $0.75 for my sandwich. I asked why, and she said it was because I had “specialty bread”. Apparently the hero rolls were “specialty” (this was posted NOWHERE), which was annoying b/c I carefully forewent the olive roll I really wanted b/c I assumed THAT’S what “specialty” meant and I wanted to avoid the upcharge.

So, I wheedled and said I didn’t know, and it wasn’t specific on the sign, and couldn’t I just have it for normal price this one time b/c c’mon, it was just a plain white hero roll? She relented and I got cheaper tuna fish, whoohoo.

Long story short – near the end of the month, I am a complete CHEAPASS. Now I feel kinda guilty :(

faustbanana (#2,376)

@julebsorry Don’t feel guilty! It was an honest misunderstanding. It’s not like you were trying to wheedle out of paying for the olive bread. Few things annoy me more than overpaying for something I didn’t want in the first place. I would’ve asked them to skip the upcharge, too.

A couple of weeks ago a cashier tried to charge me $10 for an artichoke. Like, one single artichoke, but I was apologetic about it in a horrible Oliver Twist-orphany sort of way. “Begging your pardon, ma’am, but that just seems rather a bit high? For one artichoke? Ten shillings? Terribly sorry!”

And the manager gets involved and the line is getting longer and longer and this is a gentrifying neighborhood so I feel super awkward as “White Girl in Ridiculous Faux-leopard Coat Taking 10 Minutes to Buy Quinoa, Fancy Tonic & an Artichoke” and I sort of wished I had just paid $10 for an artichoke? Which is dumb. $8.50 is not a small sum! But I don’t know what I would do if it happened again.

lizard (#2,615)

@MollyculeTheory hahaha oh god i wish you really had said it that way they would have just gave it to the poor crazy woman in the fur.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@MollyculeTheory Oh c’mon – you can be polite, but there’s no way you should have to pay $10 for an artichoke out of social guilt! Don’t feel bad holding up their line for their mistake – they could always open another line, but I assume they chose not to…

Plus artichokes are delicious and they should be giving them away for free as a public service :)

selenana (#673)

@MollyculeTheory Yeah in this case you’re not the one holding up the line, the cashier/store is with THEIR mistake.

sheistolerable (#2,382)

Do not assume workers are fluent in the ridiculous U.S. system of weights and measures. I sent my husband to the store for four ounces of pancetta, which was what the recipe said, which was what I wrote on the shopping list. The butcher gave him .458 POUND of pancetta, i.e. almost half a pound, i.e. almost twice what I needed. I didn’t notice before putting it in the sauce (and pancetta’s damn expensive!) and my delicious Rachael Ray lasagna turned out greasy : (

sheistolerable (#2,382)

@sheistolerable Admittedly my husband is not completely innocent in this scenario.

Comments are closed!