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Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Case of the Confused Cashier

Monday, February 1, 2010

Has this ever happened to you? You finish filling your cart with the

week's groceries, head to the checkout lane and place your items on

the conveyor belt. The cashier announces the total and you hand

over a nice stack of coupons. Then, the cashier pauses. You hear the

words, "I don't think we take coupons from the Internet." The

cashier hands them back to you and you ponder what to do next.

While most of my shopping trips run very smoothly,

occasionally even your Coupon Queen encounters a cashier issue or

two. So what do we shoppers do?

One of our biggest tools to deal with checkout problems is the

store's coupon policy. Most stores have a written policy that states

exactly how they handle coupons presented in the checkout lane.

Many stores post the policies on their Web sites and others have a

copy at the customer service counter in the store itself. What's in a

coupon policy? Information that shoppers can use to better plan our

shopping trips! Coupon policies state specifics such as, We accept

Internet coupons, We accept expired coupons or We accept

competitors' coupons. Everything we need to know about what

kinds of coupons our stores should accept is spelled out for us right

in the store's policy.

Armed with this knowledge, well-informed shoppers know

exactly what coupons our stores should accept! The most commonly

heard issue with cashiers does involve the store's acceptance of

printable Internet coupons. If you're told that the store does not

accept them, ask to see a copy of the store's coupon policy. Most

grocery stores and supermarkets do accept Internet coupons that are

legitimately printed and are not photocopies.

Unfortunately, due to the rise in coupon fraud, stores are

getting more stringent about the kinds of Internet coupons that they

will accept. Most legitimate Internet coupons contain a unique ID or

barcode identifier and several other key features that stores use to

ascertain a coupon's validity. And any time the Coupon Information

Corporation, a nonprofit organization that monitors coupon fraud,

identifies a new, counterfeit coupon, it sends stores an alert to watch

for coupons known to be fraudulent or counterfeit.

However, when a fraud alert goes out, sometimes it has a

ripple effect. Our stores learn that a new counterfeit coupon has

been spotted in circulation. Instead of homing in on the specific

coupon mentioned in the alert, some cashiers may find it easier not

to accept any Internet coupons. This not only hurts shoppers, it hurts

stores, too, since the large number of Internet coupons are legitimate

and perfectly fine for the store to accept. Marketers reimburse stores

for the full value of every coupon shoppers redeem, whether the

coupon ran in the newspaper, appeared in newspaper inserts, was

found on a product package or was printed legitimately from the


Would you like another piece of the cashier/coupon policy

puzzle? I've heard from many cashiers that they get very little training

on their store's coupon policy. This puts coupon-savvy shoppers in

an unusual situation. It's possible that you may be more familiar with

a store's coupon policy than the cashier is. If you find yourself in this

situation, never force the issue. Simply ask the cashier to check the

store's policy with the manager. You can politely let the cashier

know that you've read it to make sure that all of the coupons you're

presenting are acceptable.

A cashier issue most likely stems from a little confusion that

isn't the cashier's fault at all. A cashier who questions your coupons

may simply be trying to protect the store and do what they believe is

right. We'll continue to discuss commonly heard cashier coupon

issues in the weeks ahead.

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.