While out shopping this evening I stumbled across a bag in a style I’d been looking for but hadn’t previously had any luck finding. This bag wasn’t by any means fancy, but it suited my purposes, and so I was quite delighted to see that the tag attached to one of the zippers priced it at only $10.
When I looked inside the bag, however, I found an unattached label showing a price of $16. Unsure as to whether the label actually belonged to the bag, or whether the attached $10 tag was the correct price, I debated what to do. Should I quietly take the $16 label out of the bag and leave it on the shelf (since it wasn’t attached anyway) in order to avoid any confusion at the cash desk AND to pay the less expensive price? Or should I leave the bag as I found it and let the staff decide? Feeling as though the honest thing to do was, probably, to leave things the way I found them, I opted for the latter choice and carried on with my shopping.
Interestingly enough, however, when the cashier scanned the attached tag the price that showed up on her screen wasn’t $10 or $16, but rather $1. “That can’t be right,” she muttered, and I laughed and said something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t THAT be nice?!” She tried scanning a different attached label, but that didn’t work – then she found the unattached tag and wondered if that might be the actual price. Sure enough, the scan of the label indicated a handbag priced at $16.
I explained that I’d seen the unattached $16 label and had tried to find another, properly labeled bag so as not to cause her this kind of trouble, but that unfortunately this appeared to be the last bag of its kind. I apologized for the inconvenience and assured her that whatever was easiest for her was fine with me, fully expecting her to ring it in at $16 and be done with it. That didn’t seem to sit well with her, though, so she asked if I minded waiting (not a problem, as I wasn’t in a hurry) and headed off, bag in hand, to find her supervisor.
After some time she returned and said that she was going to give me the bag for $1. I was surprised, but she said, “I explained the situation to my supervisor, and told her that there was this really nice lady buying the bag, so she said I should just scan the attached tag and give it to you for $1.” I thanked her profusely and said she’d made my evening, then bundled up my purchases and headed home with a smile on my face.
The whole exchange made me feel great.
Later, I started thinking about how things might have ended completely differently.
What if I’d gone against my gut instincts for what I felt was right, taken out the $16 tag, then later had to deal with guilt eating away at my conscience?
What if I’d gone into the situation on the offensive, demanding that she give the bag to me for $10, NOT $16, because that was the price on the attached tag? Or what if, after seeing that the tag had scanned at $1, I’d insisted on receiving that price? In either case she might have given in to my request – or she might have bristled at my attitude and approach and insisted on charging me $16 – but either way, the end result would have left a bad taste in both of our mouths… and who knows how that might have spilled over onto her next customer, or my next encounter?
OK, so we’re not talking big dollars here – the bag was a great deal at $10, and would still have been a bargain at $16. And honestly, saving or spending $15 isn’t going to make or break my budget. Plus, since it’s entirely possible that the $16 label didn’t actually belong with that particular bag anyway, my taking it out and leaving it behind probably wouldn’t have been that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.
But being true to myself felt good.
Being kind and pleasant and accommodating felt good.
And getting a great bag for $1 was the icing on the cake.