I ran into the store yesterday for what I thought would be a quick in-and-out on my drive home from the city.  A 6-pack of Viva paper towels was on sale for “buy one get two free”, and even at the outrageous price of $9 for one, the “two free” made for a reasonable deal, with or without coupons.

Or so I thought.  The person in front of me in the checkout line had her own interpretation of the deal.  I don’t usually pay much attention to what other shoppers do at the checkout register, but this one almost had the cashier in tears.

The shopper and cashier’s disagreement had to do with the store’s policy on accountiing for price discounts. First, each item is rung up at full price ($9 in this case).  The sale price is taken after the shopper’s club card is scanned, and the price of the “free” items is then deducted.  So, for the three 6-packs of paper towels, the total price without discount is $9 x 3 = $27.  After the shopper’s club card was scanned, the price for the three items was reduced to a total of $9.  Some stores divide the final price among the three items, so each would show up on the receipt costing $3; this store handled it differently by showing the first 6-pack priced at $9 and the other two costing $0 each. This works out really well for the store because it also has a policy of applying coupons after all other discounts are taken and not allowing “overage” on any item. So, for the two “free items” discouont priced to $0 each, no coupons could be applied.

Well, the shopper ahead of me flatly disagreed with this policy!  She had three 75 cent coupons, which altogether would have doubled to discount the final price of the three items by another $4.50, for a total of $4.50 paid for three 6-packs of paper towels.  A super deal for sure, but not one that the store policy would allow.  The cash register computer refused the additional coupons on the two “free” items, the shopper kept insisting that it should take them, and the poor cashier kept trying to put them through while trying to explain why it wouldn’t work.

Finally, after haggling with the cashier unsuccessfully for several minutes, the shopper gave up, completed her purchase without the additional double coupon discount on the two “free” items, and took her groceries out to her car.  Whew!

After I checked out, I walked over to customer service to pick up a rain check and guess what?  The shopper had returned from her car to the service desk with her receipt in hand, a handful of coupons, and no grocery bags.  She told the manager at the service desk that she had “forgotten” to use her coupons and asked if they could please accept them and give her cash back.  The manager, unaware of what had happened just a few minutes before in the checkout line, went ahead and gave her the cash!  Except, she requested cash back for three doubled 75 cent coupons, not the two that were disallowed at the checkout line cash register.  She also got cash back for a checkout coupon that printed out at the cash register when she completed her purchase earlier. By going around store policy, she walked away with an additional $6 in cash.

So two questions: Is it right to bypass the stores policies if you don’t agree with them?  Would you have said something to the manager if you been there at the time?

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  1. It’s people like that that ruin coupon shopping for others.Ugh. That’s frustrating.
    I double coupon at Publix because they allow it. I wouldn’t push an issue like that if it was the stores policy.
    I think it’s horrible that she not only came back, but took total advantage AND actually stole from the store by using coupons she didn’t have products for.
    Such a shame to see people do things like this.. how do they sleep at night.

  2. I agree that is stealing and it is wrong. Meijer’s works the same way when you get something free it rings up as $.000 and you can’t use a coupon, I’m okay with that. If you don’t like the store policy shop at another one.

  3. My first reaction use to be the same as the listed above , then I became a manager of a store. Understand the store does not care really if the coupon matches the sale, in the end the more coupons the store gets the more the store gets paid, if you read a coupon carefully it states that the store gets paid its value plus a small handling fee like .7cents up to 14 cents per coupon. Managers have to meet quote with sale if this is the only way the lady was going to afford to shop in the store I rather she ask for the money back on the coupons. My chance of her turning around and spending not only that $6.00 I just gave her but 3 times that on her next sale are about 9 out of 10 see i just gave her a great feeling about shopping in my store and it is proven that if you feel great about your shopping exeperince you will shop more often and with my store. Therefore she thinks she has just out smarted the store but I made money off of her she made money this time but the next time she visits my store she will feel so great about shopping in it that she will spend more time in the store more time equal more dollars. I get the money back on the coupons , because I can guarantee if i did not sell the exact item to her, I did to someone in the last few weeks and that means the coupons are valid for the store.
    The cashier was just doing her job but the items were sold and so the customer is entitled to the coupon reimbursed.

  4. It was only wrong because she was dishonest about it. She should have asked the manager instead- come on, if you purchase 3 items, as long as you don’t end up with a negative final total, you should be allowed to use manufacturer coupons for 3 items. It’s not like the store looses money. I think stores that won’t take the coupons are being unfair and unfriendly to customers. I know I would have protested.

  5. I know several stores who do allow coupons to be used on each item, and some stores like Food Lion and Rite Aid ring the items up at half price instead of one free which makes it less complicated (unless you have a free product coupon). I don’t think she should have argued with the cashier, who really didn’t have the power to “fix it”, but I’ve never seen someone take their coupons to customer service and say they forgot to use them — and have them accepted! Each store has a right to their policy, and managers have the ability to make some exceptions. It just seemed like an odd way to bypass the rules. If the store has one set of rules and the manufacturer has a different set of rules, which one would you follow?

  6. That’s horribly dishonest. I can understand the woman’s frustrations with the coupons not going through, but as someone who has worked retail, I know that the cashier has limited power in terms of dealing with coupons and certain discounts. I would have asked to speak with a manager, who I’m sure would have granted the discount in this case.
    At my local Jewel, I have seen people who forget to give their coupons to the cashier during the transaction, and they’re sent over to the customer service desk to get the refund. I’ve never seen them go over sans groceries and demand savings for items they didn’t purchase. I wonder why customer service didn’t check her receipt.

  7. If she would have submitted her coupons first and then had them scan her card, she could have done it according to policy and everyone wins. 3 rolls of paper towel for $6.75.

  8. #1 – all stores have a ‘coupon policy’ – if she was a regualar customer she should have known it.
    #2 – intimidation with the check out clerk didn’t work – so she comes back? a thief with lots of guts….
    #3 – the store manager’s post on 8/31 basically validates her actions – how does he/she know that person will ever return? (unless, of course, he/she knows her personally).
    #4 – I hope the person who observed this appalling behavior told the customer service person and/or the store manager what had occurred.

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