“Extreme Couponing” seems to have extreme consequences and retailers are pushing back with restrictive policies. A recent news article highlighted Lowes Foods’ regret over its appearance on the popular TLC show.
Forget about going on a free spree like the shoppers on TV. It is increasingly difficult to save money on groceries and household necessities. Try these tips to overcome three coupon challenges.
Challenge: Confused Cashiers
I recently had a problem when trying to redeem a coupon for a free product at Target. I actually felt a bit offended because I was making a large purchase and had my one lone coupon denied in a very rude, embarrassing way. I asked about the policy and told the cashier I checked the store’s website, which said otherwise. She was not budging. She appeared to be the senior staffer and it was approaching closing time. I dejectedly paid for my order, minus the coupon product, and later called the store for clarification of its policy. It turns out, Target accepts coupons for free products and I should not have faced any hassle.
Solution: Follow Through
Gasoline and time are far too precious to waste on return trips to the store because of a cashier’s mistake. Although I politely asked about the rejection, I was not persistent enough and should have asked a supervisor to help me regardless of whether or not it was close to closing time.
If a store as whole seems confused about its policies, call the customer service hotline to verify the information and let them know if the staff needs a refresher.
Challenge: Coupon Limits
Stores often reserve the right to impose limits as necessary, but some manufacturer coupons now come with more restrictions. For example, the terms on the coupons in the monthly P&G brandSAVER now specify “limit of four like coupons in same shopping trip.”
Solution: Coupon Check
Using four like coupons sounds generous for my shopping habits. If you need to use more than that, reevaluate your shopping routine to make sure you are not buying too much at a time. Many items, such as toothpaste, go on sale with a coupon quite often, making it easy to find a bargain later.
Another option is to keep your coupons in your car or purse so you can incorporate multiple quick shopping trips into your usual routine.
Challenge: No Double or Triple Coupons
Double and triple coupons are now extinct in my neighborhood. The additional savings kept me loyal to a particular grocery chain, but low-value coupons hardly make a difference at the grocery store without the bonus.
Solution: Use Low-Value Coupons Elsewhere, Seek Higher Value Coupons
I prefer to use my coupons to buy inexpensive items at coupon-friendly stores such as Family Dollar and Dollar General. The smaller selection reduces my impulse buys and means I spend less time shopping. The prices are consistently low and I do not feel as though I should wait for a sale instead of simply buying what I need.
Finding better coupons also helps offset the policy change. Check retailer websites for higher value digital coupons. Join the manufacturer’s mailing list to receive coupons that are not available in the newspaper.
Amy Dunn, “Extreme Couponing Show will Feature N.C. Clippers,” newsobserver.com