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?