My Frugal Life - Returning Groceries

In the past two months, I have been counting my calories and watching what I was eating, which alone saved me a ton of money along with an entire percentage of body fat.

However, I still had a bunch of food hanging around the kitchen that, with my new lifestyle, I would never consider eating again. Many of these things were unopened, some were not past their sell by date.

Ad

Rather than donating these items (as I instead donate my time and talent to select groups), I returned these items to the grocery store. Sure, I got some funny looks. But hey, in the past month I've returned $20 worth of food and put that money towards purchases that fit within my new lifestyle. That's about 10% of my monthly grocery budget!

My tip is to occasionally clean out your cabinets, and return the stuff you didn't eat, haven't eaten, or probably won't eat.

Shawnna from Boston, MA

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

Flag
December 13, 20060 found this helpful

That's great, if she can do that, but here, you don't return food unless you've got a receipt. There are many things the store will just not take back, especially if the item is at all parishable.

Ad
ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
December 13, 20060 found this helpful

I have returned meat to Sam's, some chicken that went off fast. They have a double your money back guarantee, i.e. they gave me the money and new chicken!

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
December 14, 20060 found this helpful

I cannot imagine returning groceries to the store for a refund unless they are spoiled in some way! Would you really want to take home items that have been in someone's home for an unknown period of time? Your home may be spotless, but what if food has been 'stored' in a filthy place with roaches and rodents? Personally, you have given me an unsettling feeling about purchasing my weekly groceries!

Ad
ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
December 14, 20060 found this helpful

I AGREE WITH hsorbits. I COULDN'T IMAGINE DOING THIS.I PERSONALLY WOULD DONATE THE FOOD.YOU SAY "MANY" WERE UN OPENED.AND "SOME " WEREN'T

PAST THEIR DUE DATES....ISN'T THIS KIND OF LIKE BUYING AN OUTFIT,USING IT AND RETURNING IT FOR A REFUND?I COULD SEE IF YOU HAD JUST BOUGHT IT AND IT WAS SPOILED AND YOU RETURNED IT OR IF YOU GOT HOME AND FOUND OUT YOU DIDN'T NEED IT SO YOU TOOK IT BACK

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
December 14, 20060 found this helpful

I used to work in a warehouse club, and many times we would refund food when an organization bought too much for example. I would always suggest that they keep it in the freezer for their next function because SPOILED OR NOT -- any refrigerated or frozen foods would be tossed in the garbage. We had no way of knowing if the food was left out for too long or what was done with it. Any canned or bottled goods that were unopened and not past the date could be put back out on the shelves.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
December 14, 20060 found this helpful

reponse to hsorbits~~ and your quote ~~

but what if food has been 'stored' in a filthy place with roaches and rodents? Personally, you have given me an unsettling feeling about purchasing my weekly groceries!

Do you really think the warehouses that store food are clean of not full of roaches and rodents????? OF COURSE they have them. My dad used to work at a soda plant and then another gocery warehouse and they had mice AND rats that ran all over the boxes of soda and other food -- and not all of it was in boxes that were ready to go to the store.

E-Colis is found in produce across the country and you're worried about someone that went on a diet and returned a few items.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
December 14, 20060 found this helpful

You think that anyones kitchen is as bad as the back storage rooms at those grocery stores? I used to work at one... you'd be shocked. Way worse than ANYONES home could ever be. The shelves aren't much better, either. And this was a newly built, well upkept store.

Retail works like this people: the store gets their credit from the manufacturer, no matter what. They don't take the hit, the maker of the food does. So if they take something back and realize later that it was opened or expired, it gets sent back to the manufacturer to receive their refund. If dog food goes bad on the shelves and gets infested with maggots (happened, it was gross), they get their credit. If they don't think its safe to put returned food back on the shelf, they get their credit.

And don't pitty the manufacturers, they're making more money off the consumer than you could possibly imagine.

Oh and without a receipt, you get store credit. I save most of my grocery recipts for at least a year, anyway.

And aren't we talking about being frugal here? Doesn't it cost less and feel far more rewarding to work at a soup kitchen on thanksgiving or christmas than it does to donate overpriced groceries?

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
December 15, 20060 found this helpful

YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT HERE. IT ISN'T ABOUT MANUFACTURERS TAKING THE LOSS OR THE STORE IT'S ABOUT ETHICS. IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT TO RETURN ITEMS THAT YOU'VE KEPT AND ARE NOW OPENED AND OR PAST THE DUE DATE SIMPLY IN ORDER TO GET A REFUND.AND IF YOU DIDN'T WANT TO HEAR THE RESPONSES EITHER WAY THEN YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE POSTED THIS TIP.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
December 15, 20060 found this helpful

SHAWNNA

EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT TO AN OPINION. EVEN IF IT DOESN'T AGREE WITH YOURS

PLEASE DON'T MAKE THIS INTO A WAR . THIS IS A FUN SITE NOT A BATTLE GROUND

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
December 15, 20060 found this helpful

I think you all need a bit more information here. When you shop at Trade Joes (traderjoes.com), if you don't like a product, even after you eat it (partially or whole), they allow you to return it for a full refund. No they don't make you puke it back up.

I simply did not like those items any longer, so I returned them. I actually cringed while even looking at those items on my shelves. To imaqt, I found that I did not need these items any longer, just not immediately after purchasing it. If the stores policy allows it, I don't see how it is unethical.

In my opinion, the real ethical decisions come in when the grocery store decides what to do with those items.

I didn't mean to start a war, but I don't feel that attacking my ethics was a fair play. Did I cause harm to anyone by returning my groceries? Did I break any laws or store policies?

I always make an effort to be a good person and to make a difference in society, so I'm very interested to hear about the ethics/solid evidence behind your arguments.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
December 15, 20060 found this helpful

I used to work in a grocery store and the store does take a hit.... Let me tell you most of the items are thrown away. Good food just tossed because someone wants to save a buck or two. Those items cannot be put back on shelf for safety reasons. You would be better off donating the items and working in the soup kitchen you will twice as nice.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
December 16, 20060 found this helpful

~quote by Shawna~

~Retail works like this people: the store gets their credit from the manufacturer, no matter what. They don't take the hit, the maker of the food does.~

THIS IS INCORRECT.

I work for a large supermarket chain (dairy/freezer department). Now I imagine each company has different policies but where I work it goes like this:

Before the store can claim credit from a supplier there has to be a minimum quantity and dollar value which has been DELIVERED damaged (e.g. half a box/carton, or more, was received damaged/blown). If one or two items are damaged/mouldy, those items are recorded, dumped and the STORE takes the loss. If a customer walks around the store with chilled/frozen items in their trolley then decides they don't wish to purchase those items, again they are recorded, dumped and the STORE takes the loss. We have to follow food health & safety regulations and because we have no idea how long these items have been out of refrigeration we can't take the risk of putting them back on the shelves. Yet again, if a customer returns dairy products (which should be kept below a certain temperature) the STORE records and dumps those products as we have no idea how those items were stored after leaving the store, the STORE takes that loss too.

~quote by seesaw~

~I used to work in a grocery store and the store does take a hit.... Let me tell you most of the items are thrown away. Good food just tossed~

THIS IS CORRECT.

~quote by Shawna~

~Many of these things were unopened, some were not past their sell by date.~

Some were not past their sell by date? If some were, were they within date when you purchased them? If so, I would find that unethical to return them for refund or credit. Expired items cannot be put back on the shelf for sale. The STORE would wear that loss.

If people are encouraged to do things like this does anyone wonder if this practice would reflect in price increasing to cover losses??? It just appals me each day I work to see perfectly good food being dumped to keep within food safety regulations, and rightly so.

Yes, stores like to keep their customers happy, but it shouldn't be abused, if items are returned it should be for a genuine reason, i.e. purchased damaged or spoiled before expiry date etc.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
September 15, 20070 found this helpful

I agree, this is unethical. Returning food you don"t like anymore? Live, learn and take the loss. We all pay in the end for this.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
July 20, 20080 found this helpful

Once I was shopping at Wal-Mart with a bunch of coupons. On my way out to the car, I stopped and checked over my receipt, and discovered that the cashier had not deducted my coupons. I went straight to Customer Service; they found that the cashier had gone off duty right after checking me out, and had not put the coupons in either the coupon bin or the wastebasket. I can only suppose she pocketed them, whether intentionally or to hide her mistake.

Anyway, there were a number of items I had bought only because of the coupons, so I insisted on returning them. The Customer Service employee didn't give me a hard time, but did comment halfway through, "You do know that food items, once they have been out of the store, cannot be returned to the shelf. They have to be thrown out." I was stunned! I will be more careful in the future, to buy only what I really am sure I'll use, even with sealed pouches and canned goods.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
July 22, 20080 found this helpful

I believe the issue for me is the waste aspect of it all. We as a society throw away far too much garbage and now for monetary gains we are knowingly returning non perishable food that ultimately are to be thrown in the garbage. There was a time when mankind had to hunt fish and forage, Many countries still have to. We no longer do however, we need to respect the food that we have. The animals that gave their lives for us the plants that we eat etc. I do not pass judgment but I had to voice an opinion.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Flag
December 28, 20080 found this helpful

I've worked in grocery for 17 years and the store does take the loss and once it's out of the store it can't be put back on the shelf. Donate the food. Why should other people have to pay higher prices for your change in eating habits. All these little things eventually add up to higher prices for everyone.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Anonymous Flag
May 11, 20160 found this helpful

Unfortunately, by returning food to grocery stores, we are increasing food waste. I just learned that the food I had recently returned because I found a better deal on it, was put in the trash. From now on, I will think twice to return food unless, of course, it's gone bad.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Add your voice! Click below to comment. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!

December 13, 2006 Flag
0 found this helpful

Don't be afraid to return items to the grocery store that are bad or spoil quickly. For example, if you buy a big block of cheese and it starts growing mold after a day or two in the fridge, it probably was not packaged properly. Even if you used some of the cheese, it still can and should be returned for a new product. Just be sure, to keep your grocery receipts handy so you have a proof of purchase.

By ThriftyFun.com

Answers:

Returning Groceries

Especially with the price of milk these days, this is always good advice. We've done this, esp. for milk. We just put the receipt up on the fridge w/ a magnet. (02/27/2006)

By aardvark

Returning Groceries

I've never had any problems returning bad produce like bananas that never ripen properly, even without a receipt. Department managers want to keep their customers happy and aren't going to squabble over whether or not you kept the receipt. (02/28/2006)

By Kerry

Comment On This PostWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Related
In This Article
unpacking groceries
Returning Groceries
< Previous
Categories
Better Living Frugal Living My Frugal LifeDecember 13, 2006
Guides
A paper bag full of groceries
Storing Groceries
Piggy Bank Surrounded by Money
Adding Up the Savings of a Frugal Life
ice chest cooler
Keeping Groceries Cold
woman Putting Groceries in Her Car
Tips for Transporting Food
More
🎉
New Years Ideas!
🎄
Christmas Ideas!
Facebook
Pinterest
YouTube
Contests!
Newsletters
Ask a Question
Share a Post
You are viewing the desktop version of this page: View Mobile Site
© 1997-2016 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Published by . Page generated on December 3, 2016 at 9:39:54 AM on 10.0.2.172 in 6 seconds. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of ThriftyFun's Disclaimer and Privacy Policy. If you have any problems or suggestions feel free to Contact Us.
Loading Something Awesome!