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Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014

Reader Mail: E-coupons and Confused Cashiers

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's time to answer some questions from readers like you who are learning to Super-Coupon:

Dear Jill,

I never knew that I could stack a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon that I clipped from the newspaper. After picking up this tip I learned from you, I am already saving a lot! Here's my question. One local grocery store I like publishes its store coupons in the weekly flyer. Another store puts them on its Web site, which somehow transfers them to your store card. How does this work? Is it worth trying?

Dear Shopper,

Many grocery stores offer store coupons that can be electronically loaded to your store's shopper loyalty card. Here's how it works.

If your store offers electronic coupons, visit the store's Web site and look for the coupon area. You'll be prompted to input the number of your shopper loyalty card. If it's your first time visiting the site, you may also be asked to register for a free account. Once you sign in, a list of current coupons will appear.

At some grocery chains, the coupons that appear on your screen are tailored to you, based on your purchase history collected through use of your loyalty card. If you've purchased diapers in the past you might receive discounts on other baby items. If you've purchased pet food you may see coupons for pet treats and supplies. You also may receive discounts for a brand that competes directly with a product that you purchase regularly. At other grocery chains, all Web site visitors are offered the same selection of electronic coupons.

Regardless of how a store determines the assortment of coupons available to you, loading them onto your shopper's card is quite simple. Typically, the store's Web site either loads all of the available coupons to your card automatically or it will prompt you to click the specific offers you'd like to add. Once they're added, you're ready to shop! You don't even need to print the page from the Web site; the discounts will register automatically when your card is scanned at the register.

Ready for the best part of electronic coupons? Because they're tied to your shopper's card they function as store coupons, so you can "stack" manufacturer coupons on top of them for even bigger savings. If you have a $1 electronic coupon for apple juice and add a manufacturer's 50-cent coupon you'll save a total of $1.50.

Dear Jill,

Do you ever have problems with cashiers? I went to the store yesterday with some coupons I printed from the Internet and the cashier told me they didn't take Internet coupons. But I printed the coupons right from the store's own Web site. Is there anything I can do?

Dear Shopper,

I've heard this question from other shoppers. I, too, have gone to the store with a fistful of Internet coupons, ready to slash my grocery bill dramatically, only to hear "We don't take Internet coupons." This can be frustrating to a shopper who knows that the store has always taken them in the past and, as you said, the store offers the printable coupons on its own Web site.

So what's a shopper to do? The answer can be found in the store's own coupon policy. Many stores publish their coupon policies online so that shoppers can read them before coming to the store. If your store doesn't have its policy online e-mail them and ask for a copy or ask for one at the customer service counter when you visit the store.

Coupon policies are a shopper's best friend. They outline almost everything you could ever want to know about coupons. Does the store double coupons? Does it accept Internet coupons? Are there limits on how many coupons a shopper can use? Armed with these answers, you'll be better prepared to shop at your favorite store. In many cases, you'll also learn what I suspect is true in your case - that the store does accept Internet coupons (especially if the store offers them on its own site!) It appears that your cashier was simply confused about the store's policy.

(c) CTW Features

Jill Cataldo, a coupon-workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her Web site, www.super-couponing.com. E-mail your couponing coups and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.