Learn How To Coupon | Day 25: Problems At The Store



Welcome to Day 25 of the monthly series: Learn How To Coupon!


Just now joining us? This is a monthly series that we have been doing for all of you Coupon Newbies out there. We have been focusing on what coupons are, how to use them in the stores, and how to deal with problems that may arise. If you would like to read any of the previous posts, just click on any of the links below to catch up!


Day 1: Anatomy of a Coupon

Day 2: Anatomy of a Barcode

Day 3: Types of Coupons

Day 4: Where to Find Coupons

Day 5: Stacking Coupons

Day 6: Coupon Abbreviations

Day 7: Electronic Coupons

Day 8: Doubling Coupons

Day 9: Catalina Coupons

Day 10: Buy One Get One Free Coupons

Day 11: Organizing Your Coupons {Part 1}

Day 12: Organizing Your Coupons {Part 2}

Day 13: Sale Cycles

Day 14: Stockpiling

Day 15: Coupon Sites and Deal Matchups

Day 16: Coupon Policies

Day 17: CVS

Day 18: Walgreens

Day 19: Rite-Aid

Day 20: Target

Day 21: Walmart

Day 22: Shopping Online {Earn Cash Back Rewards}

Day 23: Planning Your Shopping Trip {Part 1}

Day 24: Planning Your Shopping Trip {Part 2}



Today’s Topic: Problems At The Store


So we talked about how to prepare yourself for the best possible outcome when it comes to using coupons, or even shopping to find the best deals. And while we can do a lot of things to make our shopping trips run smoothly, sometimes we just can’t help some problems that arise.

Maybe you misread a coupon, forgot a coupon, miscalculated the total, or they were out of a product. Maybe the cashier wasn’t willing to accept your coupons, or they were super busy, so they didn’t have much time to help you out.

There can be so many variables when it comes to making sure that you have a positive experience couponing. So this being said, I want to share some common problems and solutions to things that come up when shopping and/or trying to use coupons. This way, even in the midst of something bad happening, you won’t feel like you totally don’t have any control.

I will say that as a couponer, there were so many times in the beginning that I wanted to throw my hands up and say “Forget It!” It’s already stressful enough trying to use coupons for the first time, but to have additional stressers is a lot to handle. One piece of advice I can give to you, is don’t let that single shopping trip determine how you use coupons, or if you even continue to use them!

It takes practice, and you will run into snags every once in a while, but the key is to keep going. Once you feel more confident, that will be conveyed at the store.

So what are some of the common problems that you run into?


Around The Store


1. Out Of A Product

This is so common for me :) I will have an entire transaction set up, and then I get there, and realize that the product is gone! There are many things that you can do in this situation:

-Ask the Manager if they have any stock in the back. Lots of times, stores just haven’t gotten a chance to re-stocking the empty spots, so if you see an item is missing, go ahead and ask! It doesn’t hurt. And if they don’t have any available, you can also ask when their next supply comes in, and when they might expect it to be stocked again so that you know the best time.

-Ask for a Raincheck. This is one thing that I am always forgetting to do! If they are out of a product, go ahead and ask for a raincheck! A raincheck is a coupon/slip of paper that the store fills out with the sale info, and basically guarantees you that same sale price of the “out of stock” item for a later date! This is an awesome thing, because you can still use coupons on top of these rainchecks. So if you were trying to buy an item one week, and saw that the item was gone, you can get a raincheck for later. You may realize that it was better to get the deal later because new coupons may become available!

Every store has their own expiration date on rainchecks, but stores like CVS and Food Lion don’t have an expiration date!

-See if they can Pre-Order for you. If you know that you will be buying a lot of one item, and it’s a popular sale, and it’s all gone, then maybe you can pre-order a case from your store. It usually doesn’t cost to do so, and you can pick it up when it’s there with out the worry of someone else taking them!

-Try Another Store. I know this isn’t the most fun idea (especially with kids), but if you are really in need of that item at a good price, then you might want to try a different store. I have seem so many times where one store is completely out of a product, while the one down the street has a full stock! If you notice more and more that the store with the full stock always has their items stocked nicely, then I might suggest shopping there more regularly!


2. No Price Tag

So have you ever noticed in the store that there is no price tag sometimes for certain items? Or it might be the regular price tag, but not for the sale that you thought was going on. If you find your products, but don’t see the sales tag, here are a few tips to help you out:

-Price Scan. If I don’t see a price tag, then I will go around the store and find one of those price scanners to verify the sale price. Many stores like Target and CVS will also tell you if that particular item is participating in any rewards (like ECBs or any gift card promotions). If you can’t find a price scanner, then ask the cashier to double check the sale.

-Grab Your Ad. This is where having your ad comes in handy. If you see the item, but not the right tag, then look in your ad, and see what the size is for the item, and the picture as well. Go ahead and verify what you think it is with that product. If you have found the exact sizes and everything, then you should have no problem. But I would have the ad handy in case it doesn’t ring correctly.


3. Have A Back-Up Plan

In the stores, you have to be prepared to re-arrange the way you think your transaction will go if necessary. There will be times where you might forget a coupon, see a great sale, or you weren’t able to find the products that day. So this means that if you had planned out your transactions on paper, or in your mind with totals and everything, that you will have to re-calculate them. Don’t feel stressed if you run into this because it happens to all of us!

You can take a few different routes with this when it comes to re-strategizing your trip:

-Grab Same Price Items. Many times, I will have a set total in my head that I have to meet. This might be so that I can use a reward (like ECBs, Register Rewards) to help pay for that item. But if one of those products that you want to buy isn’t available, then it will throw your total off. If you have a reward for say $5, and your total is only $3, most stores won’t accept it, or will tell you to grab another item. You may find ones that can reduce the reward, but most of them say they won’t. So in this case, you need to have some backup items in mind.

I always try to get items that cost around the same price as the item I wanted before (but is out of stock or something). This way your totals aren’t thrown off by to much, and you can hopefully still do everything the same!

-Use Calculator, Pen. This is another reason why I love having my calculator with me at all times! If you find a great sale, and want to add in items to your shopping trip, or if you can’t find any items, and need to re-arrange some stuff, then the calculator will help you re-configure the numbers. I just go to a quiet corner in the store, and try to see what I can do. It also helps to write down your prices as well, so if you have to subtract items, you will know how much your dealing with.

At The Register


1.Cashier Is Annoyed, Rude, Upset

Having a patient cashier is a vital part to helping your transactions run smoothly. Sometimes you just can’t help running into a cashier that is in a bad mood, wants to go home, or doesn’t want to deal with any coupons. The first thing I would suggest is to always say “Hello, How Are You Doing?”. You may be surprised to find that they light up when someone asks about how they are doing! It makes a difference.

Just try and be as polite and courteous as possible. Ask about their day, or make small talk for a second about the weather if needed. It let’s them know that you are polite.

If they just seem so overly rude that they don’t even talk or want to handle coupons, then you can politely ask to move to a different register, or just offer to do so. While this is a hassle, you can deal with it later if needed. It’s better to have a cashier that’s happy and alert versus one that’s upset and being rude, so don’t feel ashamed of moving to another line if someone seems upset or not able to deal with coupons.


2. Cashier Won’t Accept Coupons

This is the classic for all couponers……the cashier won’t accept the coupon. There can be so many reasons why a cashier might not want to accept one.

The first thing that you want to realize, is that the level of training on the store’s own coupon policy may vary from cashier to cashier. They are also trained to try and spot people using fraudulent coupons. People that copy printable coupons, or try and use expired coupons are among the many things that cashiers see in addition to ethical, normal couponers.

So if you get questioned about your coupon, don’t be upset or feel bad. Just quietly ask them about the coupon they are having a problem accepting, and see what they say. Hopefully, the problem is solvable by showing them your coupon policy. Again, it’s probably not that they don’t trust us, it’s just that they have also had their share of fraudulent coupons, so when someone is getting something for free, it sends a red flag to them.

Here are some of the common phrases you may here from some cashiers:

-”You can’t use a coupon on a free item!”- To many cashiers, this seems bizarre that someone could get a free product by using a coupon. They may think that in order to “get” the item, you have to pay something.

-”We can’t reduce your coupon down” - I have talked to many cashiers who state that they have never even been taught how to correctly reduce a coupon if needed. Stores like Walgreens and Target actually have this in their coupon policy!

-”We don’t accept competitor coupons” - Even at stores that accept competitor coupons, cashiers may not be aware of this.

-We don’t give overage/money-back” -This saying is common, especially at Walmart. Walmart actually gives you overage and/or cash-back if you have a coupon that exceeds the price of the item. This is a rare thing for stores to do, so don’t be surprised if they have this reaction.

-”You can’t use a Manufacturer and Store coupon together”Some cashiers may not be aware that you can use a Manufacturer AND a Store coupon in most stores (if their policy permits it). Again, they are just trying to enforce the “no more than one manufacturer coupon per item” rule, so they may not be aware that the store accepts other forms of coupons along with normal manufacturer coupons.

In all of these instances, you want to just be polite. Try and double check yourself, and make sure that you did not make any mistakes! If you feel you did not, then try and show them where in their coupon policy it states that you can try and use the coupons in the way that you are trying to.


3. You Misread/Misused/Miscalculated A Coupon

So with the last scenario, the cashier wasn’t accepting the coupons, and you were showing them the policy. BUT, don’t be so quick to act like you are always correct in using coupons!

This can be so embarrasing :( I have seen this at the registers, where the cashier is questioning the coupons, and the customer gets so upset right away! They might yell, or make insults before the issue is even resolved! Then come to find out, it was the customer that misused the coupon, or didn’t follow the wording on the coupon, or didn’t buy enough products!

That would be very embarrassing to know that you got upset over something that was your own doing. So just be sure and always be polite and patient until you can work out a solution!

It’s also okay if you miscalculate something, or didn’t grab the right products! We all do it, and usually the cashier is more than willing to help you out.


4. The Total Is Wrong

So after you have handed over your coupons, and the transaction is done ringing up, before you pay, make sure you have looked at the total and made sure it’s where it should be and all the discounts are taken off. It’s a lot easier for the cashier to void something or re-ring something if you haven’t paid, and completed the transaction.

Go over your total, and make sure that you used all of the necessary coupons. Maybe have the cashier scan the screen to double check the prices against your prices and see if you can spot any in discrepancies.

If your store doubles coupons, make sure that each coupon is doubling correctly.

If you don’t notice the total is wrong until after the completed transaction, then step aside. Review your receipt, and go to customer service if you notice the problem. It’s much easier to fix it while you’re there, than later on when you get home.


5. Ask For A Manager

If all else fails, then try asking to speak with a manager. They are usually very educated about their policies, and can solve the problems quickly most of the time. The more polite you are, the more friendly they will be as well.


6. Contact Corporate

If you notice that you were using the correct coupons, and they wouldn’t accept them, or you just had a bad experience all together with a store that was not willing to help you out, then your only option may be to contact corporate.

Managers are trained to resolve many of these issues locally, so hopefully it wouldn’t have to get to that point. But if you find that you are abiding by the rules in the policy, and the store isn’t allowing you to use them, then you might need to talk to corporate to let them educate the store employees and managers on what the policy allows.

You can usually get extra clarification for yourself to give you even more confidence in the store. I have often asked for emails from corporate, so that I can print it out and take it in the store if needed.



One additional tip is that you can never be to safe! If you are totally stressed out about a transaction that you are going to be trying to complete, just call the store manager ahead of time. Explain to them that you are a new couponer, and that you have reviewed their coupon policy. You can explain some of the items that you will be trying to purchase, and how you would like to use your coupons along with it. Ask them if that is correct, and even point out phrases in the policy if necessary.

This is a great way to feel confident, because you have reviewed your transaction with a manager before you even go in the store. Once you have his okay, you should feel more confident to just go there and get what you need! If you end up having any problems with the cashier, you can explain that you already talked with the manager ahead of time, and even have them call him up front if any other problems arise.



I hope this has helped you with some of the common problems in the stores when you are trying to use coupons!


Stay tuned for Day 26!

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