WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Top 10: What not to do in couponing

Posted September 29, 2011


For those of you new to couponing or getting back into it, here is your Top 10 list of what not to do while trying to save a buck. Some are humorous, but some are flat-out illegal so keep these tips in mind when you head to the store to use all your fabulous coupons.

10. Do NOT forget to scan your card at the in-store coupon kiosks found in many stores, like CVS. Do this as soon as you walk in to the store. There are some great coupons that come out of these little machines – sometimes for FREE product! And you can couple the store coupons for an amount off a product with manufacturer coupons for the same product to really increase your savings!

9. Do NOT wait until you are at the register to start looking for your coupons. Have them ready to go before you ever get in line. If you are prepared when you get to the register, you will be less frazzled, your transaction will go much more smoothly, and you won’t irritate everyone in line behind you and the cashier.

Smart Shopper: Top 10 coupon don'ts Smart Shopper: Top 10 coupon don'ts

8. Do NOT use multiple reward cards to get more than the allowed quantity of a deal per person. If the ad indicates limit 2 per person, that is the most you should buy.

7. Do NOT take the coupons out of Sunday papers that you did not purchase from the paper box or from inside the store. Wonder why many stores keep the Sunday paper behind the counter now? So people can’t steal the coupon inserts without paying for them.

6. Do NOT clear the shelves, taking 25 of a product, and expect the store to suspend their couponing policy because you saw people on a TV show do it. Thankfully, the stores in our area all have limits on the number of coupons you can use, so shelf clearing is a lot harder to do.

5. Do NOT yell at the cashier because the store is out of stock. It is not her fault, and you are just being mean. It’s just a coupon, get a hold of yourself! I have seen wild behavior from adults getting really angry at teenage cashiers for absolutely no reason.

4. Do NOT try to use a coupon on an item it is clearly not intended to be used on. If the coupon indicates it is for the 24 count, do not try to use it on the 10 count.

3. Do NOT be surprised if your transaction is watched closely by management if you are someone who repeatedly tries to cheat the policies in the stores in your area. The employees remember those couponers who break the rules, and they watch them much more closely. You don’t want to be that person.

2. Do NOT take Sunday papers from the driveways of foreclosed homes like one of the folks actually did on the TLC couponing show. It’s stealing!

1. Do NOT be afraid to advocate for yourself. If you think a deal should work differently or they should be taking a coupon you present, ask to speak with a manager. It’s perfectly fine to ask for clarification. Fixing a deal while you are in the store is much easier than trying to figure out what happened three days ago. Sometimes the cashier just needs a little more training. BUT, remember, the nicer you are about it, the more likely the manager will be receptive to what you say. Attitude is everything, and when there is a gray issue in couponing, the kind customer has a much better chance of having her coupon accepted than the customer spewing venom. Actually, that’s kind of the way it is when dealing with most things.

So that is your Top 10 list. It basically boils down to doing the right thing and being an advocate for yourself and your family.

If you have any other thoughts on what not to do in couponing , feel free to post them here on the blog.

As I always say, it’s your money, spend it wisely!


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  • jcrownel Sep 30, 2011

    I love the USA,freedom of speech and the aisles!!!!

  • Parrot Ice Sep 30, 2011

    Faye, you are so right on the comment "Attitude is everything". I have been perplexed on some items and met w/ the manager. In each situation, the manager will help you locate the item and, if not in stock, when issue a raincheck with an agreement to fully honor all rebates printed in the ad.

    Folks being greedy and trying to manipulate the system creates animosity for the rest of us.

  • FlyingUnderTheRadar Sep 30, 2011

    These are fantastic 'Top 10's', Faye! And I'm sure with the season premiere of 'that show', some newbie 'goobers' will be out there.

    To reiterate what some others have said, BE KIND to the employees!! This includes associates that stock the aisles as well as the cashiers/managers. Treat them how you would want to be treated, don't run them (or their stock boxes) over with your cart, and don't get 'aggrivated' if they don't know when a hot sale product or reg price 'hot triples item' will be back in stock.

    Be GRATEFUL for the opportunity...many people live in small towns & don't have a HT or LF (or any option that doubles coupons) close to them...

  • FlyingUnderTheRadar Sep 30, 2011

    Oxymoron - YES! TY for saying it. The 'pulling over' was going to be what I suggested as well. Usually I have my coupons I want to use already pulled and paper-clipped to my grocery list; that being said, unadvertised sales/coupon opportunities arise where one needs to go into their binder/folder & pull the coupon. I think if everyone is 'more aware' to not block the aisle or hot product, it helps. If the aisle is packed and you can't get thru, park your shopping cart where it's not in the way and walk to the product you need, get it off the shelf, & then walk it back to the cart.

  • momboozer Sep 30, 2011

    jcrownel - You may not need anyone telling you where to "pull over" but some may not realize that simple things can matter. If you don't like to read the helpful suggestions of those here, please go blog elsewhere.

  • Ral_Ladybug Sep 29, 2011

    Remember, if they are out of something, ask for a Rain Check at Customer Service. Most RC's don't expire. So, even if your coupon expires, hold onto the RC, another coupon will eventually show itself.

  • JustMeHere Sep 29, 2011

    Thank you SO much for the tips about not blaming the cashiers or creating problems for them. My daughters used to laugh at me for being so careful about my coupons and making sure everything I got was exactly right ... until my oldest got a job a Lowes Foods ... and now my 16 year old is working there, too ... she came home in tears one of her first days because of rude, impatient customers. Now they both understand, and appreciate, why 99% of the time I grocery shop, all my coupons go through with no trouble ... and when they don't, I nicely take the coupong back and tell the cashier, "no worries, I'll use it next time".

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Sep 29, 2011

    I tend to pull over in the makeup aisle. It's really quiet there, as well.

    euphy - yes, your example is what I was referring to. Coupons should be used on the products indicated in the wording of the coupon and not on any other products. The new bar codes being introduced were developed to prevent that sort of thing from continuing.

    Careless - I remember in the "old" days when ECB;s were first coming into use, that they had limits per person, not per household. When I asked customer service if my husband could also have a card and do the deals they were fine with it. Now, the limits are per household,not per person.

    nceducator - that is awful!

  • Nancy Sep 29, 2011

    Oxy - LOL, have you been watchin' me girl? I pull over into the medicine aisle, that way I rarely if ever am in anyone's way :)

  • Oxymoron02 Sep 29, 2011

    Adding to number 9:

    If you need a minute to sort and collect your coupons, PULL OVER. Don't stand in the middle of the cereal aisle. Don't stand near an endcap. Pull over somewhere reasonably out of the line of most of the traffic. If it's going to take you a few minutes, go park in a lesser traveled aisle, just remember to pull over so people can get past you if they need to.