Did your coupons scan?
It’s no secret that being a couponer involves a fair amount of work. Couponers watch sales, select their coupons and plan their shopping trips with precision. After all that work, there’s one more element to this equation that can ultimately make your shopping trip a success or leave you wondering where your planned savings went — the checkout lane.
Do you watch your coupons closely to make sure they scan? Even if you hear that satisfying “beep” sound from the cash register, it doesn’t always mean the value of your coupon was credited toward your end total. One of my readers recently experienced a problem at his store.
As a dedicated couponer, I just had to tell you of my experience today here in Dallas. A national chain grocery store had advertised a certain brand of ice cream as Buy One Get One Free. In the manager’s discount freezer section, they also had several flavors of the same brand of ice cream marked 50 percent off. I had two $1 coupons for this product. The original price of the ice cream was $5.99, so the BOGO would make it $2.99 each. With the 50 percent off ice cream from the manager’s discount section, that would make each carton $1.49 each. Then, with my $1 coupons, it would bring the ice cream cartons to just 49 cents each.
However, the $1 off coupons didn’t scan at first.
The store also had a name brand of single-serve coffee cups reduced from $8.49 to $5.99 each. I had a coupon for $5 off the purchase of two, so I purchased two. That coupon didn’t scan either.
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After rushing me through the checkout line, I stopped and examined my receipt. The total was higher than I thought it should have been, so I examined it closely and found that those three coupons did not scan. When I told the checker about it, she called a manager over who looked at me dubiously, then looked at my receipt and refunded me the money that I was overcharged by the coupons not scanning. I had watched the checker scan the coupons, but for whatever reason they didn’t register in the system.
My point to you and my fellow readers is that you may think you’ve gotten this great deal with a BOGO, a 50 percent off, and a coupon—but if you don’t watch closely, you may not get the price you expect. This chain has done this on several other occasions to me, so I have learned to always stop and examine my receipt before I head home!”— Tim T.
I can’t stress this tip enough—before you hand your coupons to the cashier, quickly add up the total of the coupons you’re holding in your hand. Then, when your cashier finishes scanning your groceries, make a mental note of the subtotal on the register before your coupons are scanned. For example, if you have $14 worth of coupons in your hand and your total at the register is $57, you’ll want to see your post-coupon total drop to $43 after your coupons are scanned.
Another issue to be aware of is that some stores do seem to have issues when coupons are scanned on top of a clearance or instant savings promotion in store. In theory this shouldn’t happen, but as my reader Tim noted, on occasion, your coupons may appear to scan but fail to deduct any savings from your total.
If you don’t feel you have the time to add up your coupons’ value before checking out, you could try this instead: Count your coupons, and then watch the register as they are scanned. If you have eight coupons, watch to make sure eight different discounts are applied as each one is scanned. Again, be aware that even if you hear a reassuring “beep” from the cash register, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a coupon’s value has successfully been applied to your total.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.