This is a post by staff writer Yazmin Cruz.
I spent all weekend long crunching numbers after making the last payment for my emergency dental work. For sure they overcharged me, I kept thinking afterward. The amount seemed off.
I DID find a mistake, but it’s in my favor. Should I go back, let them know, and pay up?
I’ve got a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other duking it out over what to do. When I thought I had been overcharged I was ready to fight back. I was ready to march in to the dentist’s office with receipts, contract, and calculator in hand.
Now, I’m not so sure what to do. I wasn’t the one who made the mistake. The mistake was made by a front desk employee.
You may recall from my previous post that I had negotiated a lower price by offering to pay cash upfront, but my father convinced me to pay in installments until the work was completed. Luckily, the dentist allowed me to do so without adding any surcharges. When I walked in Friday afternoon to make my last payment I realized I’d forgotten to check my balance.
“That’s not a problem. I’m just going to have to look it up,” said the front desk employee slightly annoyed.
“I’d like to pay off the balance.”
“Are you sure? That doesn’t sound right.”
“I’m sure, sweetie,” she responded visibly irritated.
Turns out she was wrong. I’d be more willing to come forward if she hadn’t been so rude and condescending every time I interacted with her.
I know the best ethical route would be to come clean, but maybe this is karma getting back at her? I don’t know.
Money is not a problem as I’d already designated it to pay my dentist bill. Though, I’m really tempted to add the $33 to my fun budget.
I need your advice! What have you done when you have been undercharged? Would you go back and pay the $33 or keep mum?
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I would give back the money. It will return to you in other ways
Go out of your way to pay it back. You will feel good about yourself and it may restore their confidence in their fellow man.
It is always the right time to do the right thing!
What about grocery stores? When they charge you for the wrong item but cost less?
@Eve I’ve never been charged less at a grocery store. Have you?
I find produce is the most troublesome. I tend to get overcharged frequently and I do speak up… unless it’s a couple cents more and it will be more trouble getting my money back than what it’s worth.
It’s never a bad idea to do the right thing – you’ll feel better about it, and anyway, the money doesn’t belong to the front desk employee, it’s not like you’re giving it back to her!
You could give the dentist a call and tell him/her that you were undercharged. Maybe as a thank you the’ll say don’t worry about it. If so, extra fun money for you, if not, you’re only paying what you owe.
Talk about karma, what comes around goes around. Do unto others as you would have done to you, ect ect ect. The fact that you even brought it up should be your answer!
Michelle Ventresca says
That is a dilemma…but I’d go pay it back – I’m no angel, but I don’t want to be on the other end of the phone when they call and tell you that an error was made and you owe them $33! You can feign innocence and say “oh I didn’t realize that, but I’m sure they know better! Like MK says, return it and karma will come back to you!
I agree with Jackie. She said: You could give the dentist a call and tell him/her that you were undercharged. Maybe as a thank you theâ€™ll say donâ€™t worry about it. If so, extra fun money for you, if not, youâ€™re only paying what you owe.
Jen Y says
I agree that you should pay it back. Most places will let it go but I would bring the mistake to their attention & pay it.
I’ve been undercharged at the grocery store & called them on it -I’ve had them let it go & I’ve had them charge me. It’s always best to be honest even if the mistake isn’t yours.
I came from a family that would be overjoyed when someone made a mistake in their favor..gloat over it. It made me feel like they were cheating…and when I was on my own I decided I would do it differently.
If I am overcharged, I will require the error to be corrected. I feel that I have a responsibility to act in the way I expect them to act.
I had bought something at OSH and when I got to the car I checked the receipt and found I had bought five items (same item) but was charged for only four.
I went back in the store and told the clerk and asked him to charge me for the fifth item. A woman in line behind me had been talking about her church this and her church that and when I asked to be charged more she stared at me like I was crazy—that I should have considered the fifth item free.
I smiled at her (which included others) and said “If I take it without paying for it, it’s stealing, and that’s breaking a commandment. My soul is worth more than 79 cents…” and that’s the way I feel.
I love bargains but I won’t cheat anyone, even if they’re the one to make the mistake.
You know what to do, Yazmin.
Go back and pay the difference. It will probably make you feel guilty and you’ll dwell upon it if you don’t and it’s not worth it.
But I would mention to the dentist how rude the front desk person was. If she did it to you she’s probably doing it to other people and he should know.
@Kittie ~ Good idea about telling the dentist.
Keep the money….I am so sick and tired of rude people that work in a job where they interact with the public. May be she will get fired if the mistake is found.
I’m sure the “emergency” jacked up the price. And…the front desk person was condescending. That right there makes me say…they don’t deserve it. However, the simple fact that this is bothering you means that you already have decided, in your heart, that fessing up is the right thing to do. Call and speak with the person you made the deal with…not the front desk person…and see what comes of it. Best of luck.
This really is a matter of principles… in this case, your principles! If something is right today, it should be right tomorrow, and vice versa. Both Jackie and Kittie offered good ideas about how to handle things. Letting the dentist know about inappropriate behavior on the part of the front office staff is important, and I’m sure you know just how to do that. As Diane said… you know what to do. Please let us know the outcome.
I agree with everyone that you should let them know that they undercharged you. As for the rude receptionist, next time if she’s rude, ask her if there’s a how am I doing card…I did that at Macys when the sales lady was rude and immediately her tone of voice changed for the better.
@Eve ~ I wonder if the front desk lady would “get” the comment about a “how am I doing” card since a dental office is not where such cards typically would be. Also, it’s possible she was having a bad day, which is no excuse, of course. Yazmin mentioned the woman was rude and condescending every time she (Y.) interacted with the employee, but that may have been on that one particular day.
@ Yazmin ~ Had you had other unpleasant encounters with this person. Finally, as Ellie said, let us know the outcome.
Hi Y Since this is a place you go to often, and it is one on one contact…mention it to the dentist, who works on you…as for the rude woman…is she rude all the time…or was it just this one time…remember the dentist or the company might fire her…if you don’t have a problem with that…then i don’t really know who you are…and my advise is useless
Karen Truchok says
Call the dentist and tell him what happened. Tell him she was so rude you were tempted to keep the money. I am so tired of the staff in medical offices acting like this.
I think when you really think it through that is the crux of the matter for you.
When things like this happened with my mother her rule of thumb was always if it was reversed, would you make a fuss about the overcharge (and sometimes when you’re talking a couple of cents in the grocery store, it’s just not worth the hassle)? In this case, I definitely would. The little devil on my shoulder would still be telling me to condescendingly call her “sweetie” when handing over the bucks, though!
Last night, my partner told me, after we got home from dining out, that our bill was incorrect, that we were undercharged, and he gloated over it. This is how he acted in the past when items were not charged to him on grocery purchases, giving him free merchandise. This happened to be a restaurant that we frequent often and still he felt no obligation to correct the mistake and do what’s right. I drove over to the restaurant today and paid what was due. I’m seriously considering ending our relationship. To pick and chose when to be honest is a character flaw, plain and simple. In this case, it’s also stealing.