[Masthead] Light Snow ~ 31°F  
Winter Storm Warning
Monday, Nov. 30, 2015

Why Coupon's Fine Print May Be Your Friend

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Last week we discussed how to handle confused cashiers who may

try to incorrectly limit our coupon usage in one way or another.

The key to eliminating most cashier confusion is to familiarize

yourself with the store's coupon policy, which states all of the

store's rules for accepting coupons. And while it's true that most

cashiers are familiar with what kinds and types of coupons the store

will accept, there are also times when a cashier may mistakenly

inform you that the store cannot take your coupons.

In my coupon classes, I've taught over 6,000 people to Super-

Coupon, and so I've heard more than my share of stories of cashier

confusion. One common theme has to do with interpreting the fine

print on a coupon.

If you pick up any manufacturer coupon, either from the

newspaper or one printed from the Internet, chances are it contains

the wording "Limit one coupon per purchase." Seems innocent

enough, right? But these five little words can often be the source of

cashier confusion.

To understand why, consider this distinction. Each item we

buy is a purchase. Each group of items that we take to the checkout

lane and pay for at the same time, as a group, is a transaction. So,

when a coupon's fine print states, "Limit one coupon per purchase,"

what it effectively means is "Limit one coupon per item purchased."

(In fact, many coupons now contain this updated wording, which

makes the meaning much clearer.)

So, if a coupon is limited to "one per purchase," it simply

means that we can use one coupon per item purchased. If I

purchase 15 items, I can use 15 coupons -- one for each item I'm

buying (and I often do!) But cashier confusion frequently arises

when a shopper uses several like coupons to buy several like items.

For example, if I'm buying two bottles of juice and I have two

$1 juice coupons, occasionally a cashier may say, "I don't think you

can use both of these coupons, because they're one per purchase."

The easiest response? With a smile, ask, "How many bottles am I

purchasing?" If you're purchasing two, you can use a coupon on

each. If you're purchasing three, you could use three coupons, and

so on. In this case, the cashier is confusing the "per purchase"

wording with the "per transaction" wording.

Coupons that state, "Limit one coupon per transaction" are

typically store-issued coupons. This wording is commonly seen on

coupons like "$5 off a $50 purchase" or a store's coupon for a

deeply discounted item. Stores use the "one per transaction"

wording to limit your purchase in some way. In the case of

coupons offering money off your purchase, the store simply doesn't

want you to use multiples of that coupon in the same transaction.

Or, they may be offering you a coupon for a special loss leader,

like a dozen eggs for 49 cents, but they only want to allow you to

purchase one of that item per transaction.

Knowing the difference between a purchase and a transaction

can help you alleviate one of the most common sources of cashier


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.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: