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Keeping an eye on those receipts.

by:
Kerri Barreca

Imagine a typical Parisian café. I’m sitting in good company enjoying my chocolate chaud in style. The waitress leaves "l’addition" on the table. I leave what I think is a modest but fair 2euro tip. My friend does not. In fact, she comments on my generosity! Strange, no? It’s not until after we left the café that she tells me it is not customary to tip in France (or most of Europe for that matter) and that it was probably noted on the bottom of the bill that service was included in the price of our drinks. Since then, I’ve learned my lesson and make sure to properly read what is covered or not covered in the bill.

This is not only good practice while travelling but at home as well. A similar story involves a colleague of mine recently going out to a sports bar downtown, ordering a pitcher of beer, a plate of nachos and a side of wings. Imagine his surprise when the bill came to a whopping $90. He hadn’t bothered to check the prices before ordering (shame on him!) but even so, with over-priced food to begin with, plus taxes and an 18% service charge incorporated into the bill, this was more than he’d bargained for and as a result the whole office has been warned never to visit this particular establishment-all he could do to avenge this grave injustice!

Knowing what exactly you are buying (and how much it will cost you) is one thing you should be aware of. Equally important is checking that this agreement has accurately been reflected on the receipt. Always read your receipts to make sure there are no errors. The number of times I’ve received the wrong amount of change from the grocery store is astonishing. And imagine if my co-worker had blindly paid his tab in that sports bar and left another tip on top of that which was automatically tacked onto his bill? There is no harm in quickly looking over the transaction to confirm that all is status quo. While in these examples, we’re only looking at 2 euros or 20 bucks, it could just as easily happen with bigger ticket items. People and organizations do make mistakes when it comes to billing so be sure to look over your bills, understand them and speak up (politely!) if there is a discrepancy. Your pocket book will thank you for it!

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