Monday, March 16, 2009

Lessons from My Personal Shopping Experience

I have received some personal emails about bad shopping experiences and the inconsistency of stores. I want you all to know, it even happens to me.
Today I went to my regular Publix. I have been going to this Publix for 4 years and haven't really had any major problems. While today did not produce a major problem, it did make me feel quite uncomfortable and maybe a little wrong of using coupons (while I know there IS NOTHING wrong with using coupons.)
A very popular cashier, by couponers in my area, proceeded to scan the item, then the coupon. Usually my cashiers scan my coupons at the very end of the transactions (where I kindly have separated them by store coupon, competitor coupon, and MFR coupon.) I had a few moneymakers in my cart which she would not accept and instead changed the valued of the coupon to a lesser number. I am okay breaking even on items and not making money but I know on the store and MFR coupons, Publix IS getting back the full value of the coupon so technically I am the one cheated.
While, when it comes to competitor coupons there is a loss by the store, so that is why I am confused by my experience. Back to the point, she called over the manager who then told her on my 15 $1 off competitor coupons (for items that were only $.79) to take off the full $1 - thus giving me a $.21 MONEYMAKER 15xs. There was even inconsistency in the store! The the manager then whispered something in her ear which made me feel even more uncomfortable.
Lessons from this story and many of my shopping experiences
1) I want you to know that even I have my BAD coupon days where I am made to feel like I am doing something wrong to the store. I know better, though, and go home proud of my savings.
2) People always ask when is the best time to shop. I say go whenever you can because that is the truth. I have learned to go, though, during a busy time because they are eager to get you out of the store and not count your coupons (by the way they didn't take out any of my coupons because I was honest about my entire purchase.) Going during weekday mornings, especially middle of the week, they usually have the shelves restocked and a small crowd. This was the case for me today.
3) We all have those bad experiences. Get to know the stores that work with your coupons (two of the same stores on the street might treat you totally opposite for your coupon use.) Also, get to know the cashiers who are proud of you for saving money and might even want to learn a trick or two. My cashiers know about my deals and my website - no secrets because I want them to save too!
4) Always keep a smile and be kind no matter what! The cashier I dealt with today could have gotten in trouble for accepting bad coupons the day before (who knows?!?)
5) MONEYMAKERS - some allow it to happen others watch you like a hawk. Like I said, there is not a loss for them when it comes to a store or MFR coupon. The ARE getting the money back from the manufacturer. Sometimes, I simply ask them to reduce the coupon so I break even, but in this case, I am the one cheated because they get back the full price.


Karen said...

I just wanted to say how grateful and thankful I am to you for sharing this information with the world. My family has saved an unbelievable amount of money during these past two weeks, and on items we actually use in our home. I never knew the game of couponing before seeing you on Dr. Phil, and have been telling all my friends and family about your site (even the cashiers at Walgreens and CVS). I have purchased $203.79 worth of products (deodorants, shower gels, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, pop and food) for $40.82 after my coupons, RRs, ECBs and ESRs combined. This is a discount of 80%!!! I have encountered some small problems at both Walgreens and CVS, such as items not ringing up at sale prices and RRs not printing, but so far the managers have been very willing to correct the error. Thanks again for your hard work and dedication to help others save money!!

MsKitty111 said...

I have been through these uncomfortable situations myself and I do - for a split second feel like I am doing something wrong - but I am not, the coupons are out there to be used and frankly it would be a real hardship financially to not use them. I had a cashier at Wal-Mart the other day scrutinize every single coupon I used, I had to find items and pull them out - it was ridiculous. But at the end of the day I saved my money and will make a mental note not to go through her lane again. It is sad, but I do look for young cashiers to check me out and tend to shop when it is busier because they just want to get you out and the younger cashiers don't really care what you hand them, they just want you gone. No matter the hassles, it is worth it to save $50 or $100 off of my grcery bill every week. And maybe as grows I can offer my services to find the deals for the regional groceries in TN. Thanks for this website!!

Carolina Closeout said...

Thanks so much for sharing your stories and advice. I am new to all of this, but have been following you loyally. The success I've had so far I owe to you! I have been blogging about what I'm doing, how I'm doing and telling everyone I can about your website. So far, I've had a few success stories, but I'm hoping for that day I break even! I've only had one bad experience (and it really wasn't that bad). But the BEST experience I've had was at Walgreens with a cashier that I have never really liked. She was so helpful and even waited for me to go back and find another deal that SHE told me about! She was so pleased at the money I was saving and commented several times during the transaction. I guess that taught me a lesson about how you perceive someone to be, but she really was so nice. Please continue to share because your help and advice has been invaluable to me!

Thanks a million! Kim

brittany, steve, and gabe said...

thank you for sharing this! i have definitely had my fair share of bad experiences over the last three months, and it is a relief to know that it happens to even the most seasoned couponer. there are three piblix's in town, and at the one closest to my house, i am given a hard time a majority of the time. i had to go there yesterday because i was short on time, and it was difficult to get the cashier to accept all my coupons. she definitely read every one very closely, but since i was doing nothing wrong they were all eventually accepted. but your post was timely, and i appreciate you sharing.

danielle said...

I am horrified!!! But not going to stop LOL... I havent actually started yet because I am so fearful. I have all these coupons and I have my perfect shopping list and I am NERVOUS!!! My husband says he will go if I cant get up the nerve but I need to do it. I think I will go when its busy that is actually a great idea. thanks

Cheryl said...

Thank you so much for sharing your info. I am also new to couponing, like many here. I have been able to save over $170 in the past two weeks by using your tips. I have been able to get several items that my family doesn't use, either free or nearly free and have started a box of items to give to our church for care packages for soldiers. I am learning so much and will only save more and more as times goes on! It's like Christmas around here when the Sunday ads come out!! :)

Debbie said...

I'm not sure my comment/question goes in this section, but here it goes. Has anyone had problems with stores accepting coupons printed off the internet? I also have been reading this bog but haven't started couponing yet because I don't have any Sunday inserts. Can I /save money even though I don't have months of inserts? One tip from me if you already don't know this, Bed, Bath and Beyond accepts there coupons even when it's expired. They also take their competition's expired coupons. They also will take one coupon per item, except you can't combine the % off coupons with the $ off coupons. So for example, you have 10 items, you can use 10 of their coupons on each item. One year we went Christmas shopping their and had $400 in merchandise and only spent $200. I'm sure if you add manufacturer coupon you can save even more!

Ekstrum Family said...

I had my first bad experience last Friday. It made me feel like I was doing something wrong. THe cashier took so long scrutinizing every coupon that the five people behind me were vocally upset. One lady said she would pay me $20 NOT to use coupons. But I am not going to stop. I talked to the manager after the cashier was done and she completely understood and immediately went to correct her. I said I hate the inconsistency of the cashiers when I know the rules better than they do. Long story short.....the manager at walmart was awesome and she corrected the cashier. DON't GET DISCOURAGED guys! We have all been through it. Get to know your managers, by name. When a cashier questions you, say "well I have verified with your manager Shawna that this is the appropriate policy if you would like to check with her". I think the problem comes when we become unsure of ourself. KNOW the rules of your local store, like them or not. Go by the rules, and when someone questions you, you know exactly who to ask for or the right name to drop. It stinks that this sort of bias exists but look at what you are doing for your family, your church, your local shelter, etc.

cksknitter said...

I agree with you on moneymakers. My local Walgreens assistant manager told me that I was committing fraud with moneymakers, but isn't the store committing fraud when they collect more money from the coupons and not pass the savings on to the consumer?

MsKitty111 said...

You can find a ton of coupons online, after I make my list, anything I do not have a coupon for I go to the brands web page and see if they are offering any coupons 90% of the time some brand of a product if offering something. For example, I need mayo and have no coupon so I went to Kraft and found nothing but found a $1 off at Mayo is mayo to me, tastes better when it's a dollar cheaper :)

Anonymous said...

a girlfriend of mine told me to always go to the young boys in the store as they are more apt to just scan and not pay that close attention to what they are scanning.... so I have done that and so far so good....

VaQueenBee said...

I didn't know that stores would take competitors coupons. Does that mean I can take a coupon that says "Kroger" on it and use it at Walmart?

Thanks for your help!

Anonymous said...

I am new at this too. I have felt very nervous when checking out, and have also had mnufacturer coupons turned down. I have actually been going to the store when it is not busy, because I am afraid to have a line of people behind me gettig mad at me.
I have also noticed that some coupons online say that they cannot be doubled or tripled along the top of the coupon. Does this mean that I would not be able to use these coupons on double coupon days at my local grocery store? I am not sure if the manufacturer is chipping in for the double offer, or if the store is. Do you know wo does the chipping in?
I definitely appreciate all of your help! I saved $106.last week off of my grocery bill. This was in coupons only, so it doesn't include the savings that I got from items being on sale. I still spent $85, but I got a lot of stuff! Thank you, Penny

Valerie said...

I agree with Andrea about going to the 'younger' cashiers. Most of the college aged ones don't look and just scan them. I find that the middle aged to older women cashiers are more nit picky about the coupons.

Christine said...

Just wanted to thank you and let you know about my experience at Publix (in Tally) last week. I was at one (which has never been very friendly when I coupon there - but thank goodness it's not my normal store, just a store that is close to my daughter's preschool) and they handed me back all of my Food Lion coupons, saying the last store had closed, so the manager decided not to take them anymore. ACK! Last week though, at my normal Publix (far NE side of town), they took them no problem...but they are always fantastic...although I've been shopping there for 11 yrs now! : )

Just wondering if anyone else had heard this about Food Lion coupons in Tally? It makes sense I guess, I was just a little surprised.

Anonymous said...

My publix in Marietta GA will not take the food lions coupons they all of a suddedn one day stopped taking them

Ekstrum Family said...

Vaqueen Bee,

Yes. Take those coupons but present them when the cashier is ringing it up. She is supposed to "price match" your item based on the coupon. You can't use it at the end because it doesn't scan like a MFC Q. BUt show your ads or any competitor coupons for price matching "while" she is ringing stuff up. As long as you present it before, then ou should be fine. Keep in mind, it does take them longer. For instance....They will ring up the item to see how much it is, then manually type in the new price on each item you price match. And that doesn't include the time for them just to ogle your coupon to make sure it is okay to take. Good Luck!

amber said...

I think the biggest issue I had when I first started is the fear of rejection...are they going to reject my coupon? Are they going to look at me up and down before deciding to take it? The anticipation was worse than the actual experience. I had a line manage (straw boss) at my Walmart in Commerce, TX tell me that they did not accept internet coupons until I pulled the Walmart coupon policy out of my purse. She looked at it for a second and shoved it back at me and told me there are so many coupons that are fraudulent and instructed the cashier to see if it scanned. Like that is the litmus test!!! Anyway, she did let me use all but one Johnson coupon for the buddies, so I had them take both of them off of my bill. The entire time my one year old sat in the cart balling at the top of her lungs. It was a nightmare, but I did not let my baby crying or the straw boss of Commerce, tx Walmart keep me from saving $50 that day.
So I am prepared now, because I have faced the worse kind of coupon rejection and came out alive!

Frugal Coupon Mom - said...

Amber, I share some tears with you and your little gal in the shopping cart!

Frugal Coupon Mom - said...

Debbie, internet coupons can honestly depend on the store. Keep trying. Sometimes calling the store ahead of time or printing out a coupon policy for your stor helps. I do know about those Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons - I never through them away!