Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever been overcharged for something you bought in a store?

Have you noticed that what you were charged is not correct?

It can help to know what to say in English in this situation, and that’s what we’re going to help you with today.

Remember it’s about having the right thing to say, but also having the right attitude as you approach the person that is in the wrong.

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Working Through a Common Mistake

What do you do in the situations where you know that the other person is wrong?

What if you feel taken advantage of or as if the mistake doesn’t matter to them?

Do you think it’s rude to ask someone to make the correction?

In most instances at the grocery store, it’s important to point out a mistake to make things right.

The exception to this can be if you are in a rush and it’s a very small amount that it may not matter to you–like a dollar.

You want to think of the situation at hand, and then decide if bringing up the mistake is worth it.

Sometimes it really is, but sometimes it’s not worth your time.

It’s All About Your Approach

If you do find that you feel compelled to point out or fix their mistake, then you want to have the right approach.

It’s important to be really friendly in these situations because you don’t want to embarrass the person.

It is very likely that it was an honest mistake and nothing more than that.

Most people aren’t up to no good, but you do want to point out a mistake.

You don’t want to be taken advantage of, and you do want mistakes fixed–but you also want to approach this with a positive attitude that doesn’t come across as rude.

A good positive approach is more likely to get you what you want, and to ensure that you don’t cause any friction.

This happened to Michelle in the grocery store and she explains the story in this episode.

We have also done a past episode on what to do if you get the wrong order at a cafe. Click on the link below to get that episode.

How Do You Address Things?

You want to be sure that you say the right thing to rectify this situation.

If a mistake has been made, you want to fix it.

You do however want to be sure that you say just the right thing.

So what can you say and come across in the right way?

  1. Excuse me: You are getting their attention in a polite way. You aren’t coming off as rude but rather trying to get their attention so that you can discuss things.
  2. Explain: Once you have their attention you have to explain what happened. You have to go into detail about what happened, what went wrong, and why you are there to discuss things. This will help them to understand the reason for you talking to them.
  3. Ask to change: You are then asking for an action to be taken to fix the mistake. You already told them what happened and what went wrong, and now you are asking them to fix things and to change what went wrong.

We’re going to focus on steps 2 and 3 as they are the most important in this situation.

To explain: You have to offer some sort of detailed explanation of what went wrong. You have to help them to see why you are here and what you are trying to accomplish or ask for their help with. You might say something like the following.

  • It says here the grapes are $6, but the sign says they are actually $5.
  • I thought the grapes were on sale for X dollars.
  • It seems like there’s a discrepancy between the advertised price and what I was charged. (show your receipt)

To ask to change: You are asking for an action to be taken to make things right. You are using the right approach here, but you are also being very detailed in what you are asking for them to do.

  • Could you double check please?
  • Could you adjust the price since there was a difference in what was advertised?
  • Can you please help me to get this straightened out since I paid too much?


These things happen all the time!

Try not to get worked up about it because more often than not, it was likely an innocent mistake.

If you have to talk to a manager in English, that’s okay but just go in with the right attitude and things to say.

Most of the time the situation should likely be worked out easily if you are friendly and explain what happened.

Go here to learn how to talk about food and culture in English.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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