So now that you’ve found your coupons, made your shopping list, how do you survive the checkout lane and deal with any potential problems with cashiers?
I’ve had very little problems with cashiers. My worst experience was at Wal-mart. I’ve had problems at a couple of other stores, a Kroger in a neighboring town (don’t shop at that particular store anymore) and one cashier at one particular location (I avoid that CVS if all possible). Lucky for me, there is a CVS is every town and almost corner in my state, so I can have my pick. My home base CVS is WONDERFUL so I have no worries there! It can happen and probably will happen to every coupon shopper at least once. At the bigger stores, if I have had a good experience with a particular cashier before, I will wait EXTRA to be in their line because I know it will save me time in the long run.
1. Know Your Store’s Coupon Policy and carry it with you if necessary. Calmly, ask to speak to a manager if you have a problem with a cashier, many do not know their own policies. If you still have a problem, keep their corporate customer service number with you and if you have a problem at the register, calmly step aside while you call customer service. Some stores will have their own policies that are contrary to corporate policy. Some stores have online printable coupon restrictions, free coupon restrictions, etc. Each doubling policy also varies from store to store. One Meijer will allow doubling of multiples of the same coupon and others will only allow doubling of (2) of the same coupon per transaction.
2. Know Thy Coupon
Here’s some handy verbage to arm yourself with:
One Coupon per Purchase
If you buy one bottle of shampoo, you can use one manufacturer’s coupon for that bottle. If you have additional coupons, you have to buy another item to be able to use that coupon. You are not allowed to use two manufacturer’s coupon per item. So if you had 10 coupons and 10 coupons, this is allowed. I used to think this meant I could only use one coupon per transaction. How far I’ve come! (You can still use (1) manufacturer’s coupon and (1) store coupon at most stores.)
One Coupon per Item Purchased
This is the same as one coupon per purchase but with better language specifically stating one coupon per item purchased.
One Coupon per Customer/Family
This is rare but I have noticed this on some internet coupons or a big coupon like $5/20 purchase. The way around this is to make multiple transactions (if store allows) or multiple trips. Your mileage may vary on these types of coupons.
One Coupon per Transaction
You are only allowed one coupon for this item for each transaction. This is to try to limit how many you purchase in a transaction. So, smart shoppers will get around this but just make a few transactions whether in one trip or multiple trips.
BUY X GET $ off Y
I’ve ran into coupons where you have to buy another item to get $ off the other item. Make sure you purchase both items. Same goes for $1/2 (you have to buy 2 items to get $1 off.)
At most stores (CVS, Walgreens, Meijer, etc.) you can use (1) MANUFACTURER’S coupon and (1) STORE coupon per ITEM (IE Extra Care Bucks, Customer Receipt Coupons, etc.) Look across the top of your coupon to determine which it is – it will clearly state “Manufacturer’s Coupon” or “<Insert Store Name> Coupon”.
3. Make Sure your Coupon is Legit. If you have any question about whether a coupon is counterfeit, you can check its validity at The Coupon Information Corporation. Any coupons you get out of the Sunday Inserts, Magazines, home mailers are usually fine. It is mostly when you buy coupons on the internet or print them out from the internet where the problem comes in. It is better safe than sorry and if the coupon seems too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Double check your coupons with your items purchased. Before you check out, look over your items and make sure you have all the correct coupons matched up. It is easy to forgot about a coupon or find that you didn’t really buy that item! This will save you time at the checkout and make your cashier’s life easier and in turn, they won’t treat you like you are a criminal with your coupons because you accidentially tried to pass through a coupon for something you didn’t buy. I usually spend 5 minutes before checking out, flipping through my coupons to make sure I have everything matched up correctly.
5. Pay Attention when Checking Out This is when it pays to shop by yourself without any distractions (ie children, husband, chatty friend.) at the checkout. I watch the register like a hawk. Sometimes things don’t ring up correctly or sometimes they miss a coupon. This happens frequently with free coupons because they have to type in the amount and this can be overlooked by an inexperienced cashier. (This actually happened to me yesterday and I knew they missed it – saved myself $3 by paying close attention or like the Wal-mart experience at least $15.) Don’t be afraid to question. You don’t have to be rude or nasty about but be assertive.
6. Ask for rain checks if they are out of items. Sometimes it pays to get rain checks! It gives you more time to collect coupons for a really awesome deal! Each store will have their rain check policy. If it states, will supplies last, X # per store, they may not give you a rain check. I had a rain check for $1.25 Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner because they were completely out at Meijer and then the next week I ran into some more fabulous $1/1 coupons from our Pediatrician’s office. So .25 toilet bowl cleaner for me! I don’t really care for Marsh’s rain check policy – they expire 14 days after they issue it. So you have to remember to go back and HOPE they have it back in stock.
Remember to be patient with your cashier’s especially if they are new! I like breaking in new CVS cashiers! :) If you have a problem with a rude or nasty cashier, by all means, send their office an email. Of if you have a fabulous experience, send their office an email. I have done both in the past.
One last note, don’t be nervous about using your coupons! When I first started out, I got all clammy when I showed up at the cash register with my wad of coupons. Now, its an old habit and it doesn’t bother me. It also helps to arm yourself with the above knowledge. The more you know, the more confident you will feel in your couponing abilities.
For more frugal links go to Biblical Woman.