6

Maybe it is wrong equation:

It is my balance in a seller's website

-7.1 + 1.63 = -5.47   #instead of +5.47

Why does the seller say -7.1 + 1.63 = 5.47?

5
  • 2
    It's nothing more than a UI bug. You had $7.10 credit. You spent $1.63 this month. So now you have $5.47 credit.
    – brhans
    Feb 10, 2023 at 1:43
  • 5
    If you overpaid on a credit card you'd have a negative account balance, which is the same as having a positive remaining credit.
    – Hart CO
    Feb 10, 2023 at 2:37
  • @brhans It's just accounting data. Sure, it looks unusual, but that's because most people usually don't have credit in a liability account (e.g. credit cards that are overpaid). Having dabbled in the accounting world myself, this screen looks perfectly fine.
    – phyrfox
    Feb 10, 2023 at 15:49
  • 1
    Having dealt with a lot of accounting data, I agree this is correct, but the presentation leaves something to be desired — the giant plus and equals signs are not doing anyone any favors here.
    – A. R.
    Feb 10, 2023 at 20:13
  • 1
    $5.47 credit is the same as $-5.47 balance. It's a little confusing because they use two different terms, and also use green for the negative balance as well as the positive credit. They should have used the same terminology for both. Feb 10, 2023 at 22:52

2 Answers 2

15

This looks like a summary of a credit card statement. Assuming that, then this equation is of the form

money you owe us already + new spending you owe us from this month = total you owe us now

In this case, the starting balance is actually a credit (negative debt; likely you overpaid your previous bill, or some charge got refunded), and is therefore expressed as a negative number. The additional charges this month get added to that to calculate the new amount owed, which is -5.47; this is another credit (you owe a negative amount of money, or, in other words, they owe you).

However, the presentation of the numbers is inconsistent. The starting balance is listed as how much you owe them; this happens to be a negative number. The ending balance, if expressed as the amount you owe them, is also a negative number. But they have chosen to present it differently in this case, as a credit. The meaning is the same.


If this is not a credit card, the main point(s) of this answer likely still apply

3

This is a UI feature. And a very important one!

A recurring problem in the 80s was credit card bills would arrive with a return envelope and payment slip showing a $4 credit balance. So when shuffling through the monthly bills, many citizens would write a $4 check and stick it in the envelope with the slip. Due to the high volume of payment processing, it was impracticable to pop it out and politely return the check - anyway citizens sometimes overpaid credit cards to have room for a purchase which exceeded their credit limit. Next month, they'd receive a bill with a return envelope and a $8 credit balance. Guess what they'd do. This would snowball.

So credit cards have iterated on changing the UX to feature the credit balance in a more bold and distinctive way. For instance, some rigged their auto-stuffers to omit the return envelope.

As such, they have a long history of "stating it clearly so the accounting novice does not miss it" as a much higher priority than accounting exactness.

2
  • To be honest if it is a UX feature that is supposed to help people by displaying a credit balance as a minus number on one side and a positive number on the other then I'm not sure I want their help.
    – Jontia
    Feb 11, 2023 at 19:10
  • @jontia the number on the right is not signed. It is labeled/named. It's a different field than that presented to those who owe; that's why it's labeled. Feb 11, 2023 at 22:19

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