Tip of the Day Tuesday: Coupon Trips Gone Wrong

I apologize for being “absent” these past few days.  We did not have internet access all weekend and I’ve been sick anyway.  Between those two things and trying to keep up with a busy schedule at work, I’m in a bit of a bargain slump.  This is a “short” week for me this week, so hopefully having an extra day off will help me get back on track!  In the meantime, I’m a little bit sad about all the great “bargains” I’m missing out on this week between Toys ‘R Us and Walgreens!

My Tip of the Day Tuesday focuses on how to handle “coupon trips gone wrong.”  Even after using coupons for years, I’ve STILL been there.  You’ve got all of your coupons ready.  You’re so excited to check-out and see how much you’ve saved.  And then you hit the “bargain blocking cashier.”  I have touched on this in the past, but I’ve gotten a few e-mails from people who have experienced this lately, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Here are a few tips for handling those roadblocks:

Make sure you buy participating items

When grocery stores offer special promotions, there are typically special tags on participating items. Also read the fine print in the ad because sometimes only specific sizes, scents, flavors, etc. are part of the promotion. Buying one “wrong” item will throw everything off. 

Don’t be afraid to visit customer service

If your deal doesn’t work out as planned, don’t be afraid to visit the customer service desk. Participating promotion items usually have a special marking on the receipt and they can usually easily figure out why your deal didn’t work out as planned. Sometimes it also might be something as simple as a catalina machine that is not working. If you bought an item that did not count toward a specific promotion, if you ask, they will usually let you return the item that did not work and exchange it for the appropriate item.

Make sure you are using your coupons correctly

Make sure you read the fine print on your coupons and that what you are buying matches up with the details on your coupon. I have noticed that many of my stores have become much more particular about coupons. More often than not, they read the fine print and make sure that my items match up, especially if they beep. Avoid embarrassment at check-out by using your coupons legitimately!  (Make sure you check out this article on “How to Spot Fake Coupons” and this article on “Coupon Etiquette“)

Know your store’s coupon policies

If you do a search online for individual stores and “coupon policies” you will find letters that others have received from customer service regarding store coupon policies. Sometimes it’s helpful to print these letters to share with your cashiers, especially if you have had difficulties redeeming coupons at that store in the past. When in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to e-mail customer service yourself to inquire about their coupon policies so that you have your own hard copy.

Remain calm and don’t be afraid to ask for a manager

Even though you may be embarrassed or incredibly frustrated, don’t lose your cool. It will only make the situation worse. Instead, if things get too heated or the cashier refuses to work with you, don’t be afraid to ask to speak with a manager.

It’s OK to walk away

If you are trying to use your coupons correctly and the cashier and/or store manager refuse to work with you, it’s OK to walk away. You can try to visit the store at another time or visit another store in the area. Be sure to contact the store’s corporate customer service department to share the “issues” you had.

Don’t let a bargain hunting trip gone wrong ruin your experience forever. Take a deep breath and move on!  Also, learn from that experience.  There are certain stores and cashiers that I avoid because I know that they are not “coupon friendly.”