Extreme Couponing Tip: Keep Your Cool!

Extreme Couponing Tip

Here are some tips on how to be a TRUE Extreme Couponer

This week’s tip is: Keep Your Cool

We have all been there, standing at the register watching our coupons tick off one by one bringing our total bill down, down and down.  Until all of a sudden, everything stops and you are informed that you can not use this coupon because…..

Well, because of a number of strange and funny reasons.  Through the years of having this blog I have heard a lot of funny excuses but, because I’m getting old and I can’t remember anything, I could not think of one funny excuse.  So, I thought, let me post that question on the LRWC facebook.  And, that is what I did.

And boy, are there some funny ones for sure. I can’t list them all, so head over to the Facebook Page and read them when you have a chance.  Here are just a few of them:

  • Karen said: “because apparently any size excludes 16oz… and 20oz… and 1 liter… oh!!! you get the picture!!! its because the size i was buying didnt say ‘any size’!!!”
  • Allison said: “You can’t use that coupon( b1g1) because you have to buy three items! (what?) I am already buying one. It does not say b2g1.”
  • Alisa said: “according to the cashier, i couldn’t use the coupon for the item “because I would be getting it for free”
  • Anita said: “i was told my coupon was suspicious and they dont take suspicious coupons…it was from a sunday insert…”
  • Kerry said: “I was told  that I couldn’t use my coupons. I asked why and was told, “I don’t know. You just can’t.” Well that explains it lol!!!”
  • Sue said: “because she was supposed to leave in five minutes and i had too many coupons”

But, in all seriousness, what do we do when we are confronted the words, “You can’t use this coupon because…”

Well, We Keep Our Cool!  And, here are a few ways to help you do just that

::Educate Yourself First

Educate yourself on coupons.  Being educated on the basic information about coupons enables you to discuss your situation with the cashier or manager.  Imporant things you should know include learning about fraudulent coupons, UPC codes,  the value of the coupons and more.  Be sure to check out the Important Facts Your Should Know Before Using Coupons post to help get you started.

::Use the Coupon How They Are Intended to be used

Be sure that you are, in fact, using the coupon exactly how it is indented to be used.  If the coupon is not meant to be used on trial size items, then do not try to use it on that.

::Understand the Store’s Coupon Policy

Knowing your store’s Coupon Policy is a very important step to ensure that your transactions go smoothly.  If your stores only allows you to use 4 of the same coupons in a transaction, then that is all you can use.  If they have decided that they are limiting the number of internet printed coupons, then make sure you stay within that limit.  Also, be sure to print out your Store’s Coupon Policy and read through it and have it with you at the store.  If you have a question regarding something in the policy, then, by all means, ask at customer service for a clear explanation.

If they know and see that you are all about couponing within the rules, then they are less likely to question you for some of the silly reasons above.

::Evaluate the situation

While you are in line, quickly evaluate the situation and determine how important that purchase is to you.  Is the purchase just something for free, discounted or if you remove it from your order, will it throw off your catalina purchase?  If the item will not effect your total order, consider the following options:

  1. Have them remove the item and try another time
  2. If a manager is quickly available ask to speak to a manager
  3. Ring up the item, without using the coupon,  and head over to customer service after you complete your order.  If at that time, they still will not honor the coupon, simply return the item.

::Contact Corporate

If you have calmly tried to plead your case and you still feel you are right, then contact the store’s corporate office.

Again, if you are educated in the use of coupons, you were using the coupons how they are intended to be used and you followed your store’s coupon policy, in the end, you should be able to discus your situation calmly with either customer service, a manager or corporate.

If you are new to couponing, you may want to check out the Couponing for Beginners section where you will find a lot of answers to your questions.

The links in the post above may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.
  • (Exchange after handing a WM cashier four identical coupons – the only ones I had for the transaction.)

    Cashier: “You can’t use these coupons because they’ve been clipped in bulk.”
    Me: “Yes, they have.”
    Cashier: “You bought these coupons?”
    Me: “Yes.”
    Cashier: “That’s coupon fraud.”
    Me: “I bought four papers on Sunday morning in the 10-item-or-less line over there (pointing). The coupons were in the papers. Then I went home and clipped the coupons in bulk. I’m all about making my couponing experience easier (with a big smile).”
    Cashier: {huff}

    • nicole

      I had a similar experience and reaction at Walmart where the cashier told me buying coupons was considered fraud. And she had no real answer when I asked why they sell the paper every Sunday that contains those coupons that I received, hence bought, at Walmart no less. 🙂

  • sarah

    great post. In the past I would get really flustered if things didn’t go as planned at checkout. I have learned that customer service is my friend. I always double check my receipt after the transaction for pricing errors. If I find an item rang up the wrong price I always go to customer service for an adjustment–even if it’s only off by .50. I’m not sure if every store does this, but they will give the item for free if it rang up higher than the advertised price.

  • Arielle

    I recently had a cashier at ShopRite not want to honor a coupon because I wasn’t buying the exact product pictured on the coupon. (It was a coupon for $1.00 off Herbal Essences styler and the hairspray was pictured. I was purchasing the hair gel and the cashier told me they weren’t the same!)

  • I just go to the same stores on the same day and then just go to the same cashier, not because I’m cheating, because I know they know me and won’t give me a hard time.

  • Shanta

    I had an awful experience today at CVS. I went into this(my regular CVS) today I had 3 items $ 3 coupons. one of the coupons was the free candy or soda from CVS/facebook page. The manager was there because the cashier 1st question the free Snickers/M&M’s mailed coupon. The mangers says ‘that Free snickers coupon is fine’. When he got to my CVS free candy coupon, he read over & over then he scanned it on it scanned & it read CVS coupon -$2.00. he looked at it again and voided it & then accused me of copying this coupon. He did this in front of my 13 yr daughter. I have NEVER & will NEVER copy coupons. I & my husband calmly told him that I did not. I was embarrased, offended.

  • Shanta

    I returned home at 5:58 & called CVS before they closed at 6. I still have the email for the coupon & I told the customer rep. He informed my that my coupon was totally valid. I looking to hear from the district manager within 48 hours. I make enough money that I can buy myself ‘1’ candy bar or soda, but this was about principal.

  • Julianna

    At Tops the other night I tried to hand the cashier a$5.00/1 Earthbound Farm Organic coupon that the company had e-mailed me and I printed at home. The cashier looked like I was trying to give her a dead rat. “I can’t take that. I can’t take that. I can’t even touch it.” And she wouldn’t even though it’s in their corporate policy that they won’t take internet coupons for “a value greater than $5.00”. The item I wanted to use it on was priced at $3.29 so I should have gotten my celery for free and the store would have made $1.71 (plus $0.14 handling) on it. I was so flustered that I forgot one of my bags and had to go back to the store to retrieve it. While I was putting away the stuff I did bring home I saw that a catalina reminder slip had printed for Gerber. So I grabbed my Gerber coupons and headed back to the store. I grabbed 5 Gerber lil’entrees (on sale $1.25 ea) cashed out with (5) $0.55/1 Gerber (4 doubled), paid $1.35 OOP and received $2.00 catalina…. which I then used on my celery along with the $1/1 Earthbound Farm Organic coupon that had also been emailed to me. I got my celery for $0.29, and a great deal on 5 lunches for my daughter. And I still have the $5/1 Earthbound Farm Organic coupon. I think that Walmart sells that brand sometimes and that they give overage…

  • Tom

    I once had a cashier at ShopRite tell me my coupons were copied….I asked her, “As a good cashier, what should you look for first before accusing anyone?” She couldn’t answer it…I had to point out that the coupons were not the same – because each one has its own specific code when printed online. She then proceeded to tell me that the UPC code for the coupons were the same, meaning they were copied – well yes, clearly – otherwise it would not be for the same product! She asked me if I could do her job better – I flat out said yes. They brought the manager over – it looked like he had just woken up from a deep sleep, took one look and said no, he won’t take them. He also admitted to us in a follow-up phone call after we left the store that he knew nothing about coupons (we questioned him on their coupon policy). Mind you, this was after 10 pm and customer service was closed. I ended up going back the next day and spoke with customer service, who could not believe my story. Luckily that morning, one of the corporate officers were there (a Saker) – she then heard what happened the night before and they allowed me to use my not-copied coupons and promised me they would talk to all the employees. I ended up getting a $5 SR gift card for my troubles.

    • Shanta

      wow….but kool on the $5 gift card!!!!!!

  • nicole

    I have issues at my Walgreens when a certain store manager is working in the evening as he doesn’t ‘believe’ in coupons. I told him that he wasn’t hired at Walgreens to enforce his beliefs but to enforce Walgreen corporate policies and if he had a problem with that then I’m sure someone at corporate could review that with him what his role is. I then went over what their coupon policy, in hand, showing where it states if the coupon exceeded the price of the item being purchased it would be reduced to prevent an overage and he told the cashier to go ahead and process my coupons. It was for the expo markers in August where there would have been a penny overage and the cashier said she wouldn’t take it for that reason alone. Now if he sees me in the store, he comes over and ‘supervises’ my checkout. I don’t care cause I’m not doing anything wrong and I kill him with sweetness and kindness.

    • Jan

      Nicole where do u live I have a Walgreens manager who sounds like this guy. I overheard him talking to another employee one day and he was griping about coupon users. “What do they want us to do let them pull a truck up to the back door and fill it up.” At other times one new manager asked me about couponing when he saw my binder. He was very interested and had tried to coupon himself that was a great experience!

      • nicole

        I shop in Bellingham, WA (I actually live in Canada 26 blocks from the international border & come down 2x week to shop). Sadly, Canada does not offer couponing the way it is in the USA and our prices are alot higher for the same items. So I shop exclusively in the USA until things change 🙂

  • Great Post! It amazes me that the cashiers do not get better training on stores coupon policies!

  • Jill b

    This is what I tell friends all the time. Stay cool, decide what you will do if the cashier will not take the coupon ($1/1 skim plus q….) know the rules, and be nice. You catch more flys with honey… And you don’t need to to have a heart attack if the cashier turns down your coupons.

    You will have experiences using coupons. It’s not the same checkout process you are used to with no coupons or a few coupons. Because sometimes: People behind you get upset, the cashier gets annoyed, managers are cocky and your stuck to deal with it. I know I had a melt down and blow up a couple of times because of the way the cashier was invalidating and checking every single coupon I handed her (this coupon is for the Oreos not the spring Oreos, that coupon bogo coupon can’t be used with the $1/1 coupon because I’m a big jerk…) I was a noob at coupons an I didn’t know how to handle the situation n there was 2 managers standing behind her backing her every thought on why I couldn’t use my coupons, I put item after item back and customers behind me were staring and switching lanes… I flipped, I yelled I asked for my coupons back, and I left my entire purchase at the register. But that was then this is now. If faced with a similar situation I keep my cool even tho blood is boiling and I am better at matching coupons to items. A lot of the things I was trying to buy that night were not right. I didn’t know they weren’t right and the cashier looked at me like I knew full well what I was doing. It didn’t discourage me. I kept on shopping and couponing. My stockpile is full and I’m teaching others who are willing to learn.

  • Diana

    Great Post ladies!

    I just have one question ”Why does it hurt at some people the we are saving money?” I coupon so I can be a stay home mom and be with my child as long as I want.I have stores that I like because there are knowledgeable people working there and shopping is fun, and I have stores that I would not set a foot, even if they give away the products for free.Couponing is a lifestyle,a hobby and of course money savings for me.And just because TLC makes couponing look awful and crazy,that does not mean we are the same like those people on tv.

    • Alyson

      Diana, I think that’s the main gist of the issue – everyone just thinks of those crazy people on TV. And if we have coupons, we must be clearing shelves and hoarding food in our basement and feeding our families mustard and cereal every day because that’s all we got for free with our 1600 coupons in one transaction.

      My ShopRite is really coupon friendly – and I couldn’t be more thankful about that! I’m not the only person in there with my coupon binder each week, and the cashiers seem to be really well trained in how to handle coupons. Knock on wood, I have NEVER had a problem.

      Thanks for the great post to help me prepare for the inevitable day that someone gives me a hard time! Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my temper in check! 🙂

  • spender

    Worst WM experience ever! I tried to use more than one of the same coupon and I was told I could only use one since it said “one per purchase”. I had 4 items and 4 coupons! Apparently this came from the manager so I didn’t bother arguing. I just told her to take everything off and I walked out.

  • Lovingmynewhobby

    Where should i begin..I went to CVS once and they told me i couldnt use two coupons for the same product..when THEIR coupon policy clearly states that you CAN use a manuf. q with a CVS q which is what i was doin..I had another experience in Shop-rite where they told me I couldnt use my coupons because I’m not allowed to get too many items for free.. :/ really? I had an experience in Target..the cashier told me and I quote “you are already getting $15 off an $18 purchase, what more do you want? I was never more embarrassed in all my life..but i played it cool and left it at that. But trust me when I say I did contact their corporate office and store manager about it…I hate to say this but that cashier is no longer working there..

    I have had the occasional you cant use this because its not whats on the picture and ive had cashiers literally take a whole hour for me to purchase ten items all because they had never “seen” a coupon in their life…at least thats how they looked at the coupons..you would think coupons had green slime or horns growing out of them…I said it before and Im going to say it again…i’ll never stop couponing..Its how i keep food on my table and my family happy that even though we are experiencing hard times we can still enjoy the things we always have. Thank you Cindy for helping us stand up for ourselves…and to all those coupon bullies out there…we are coming to get ya! lol

  • Susie

    It’s a hit or miss. I usually do not have a problem with my Shoprite, but last week I did. I had a coupon that was for$.75 off 2, (each item was $.77), but it was only recognizing it as off of 1. It would only double to $.77 instead of $1.50. The cashier called the manager over, I explained to him why this was happening (coupon started with 5 and did not say do not double) He told me this was not their problem it was just the way the coupon was and their was nothing he could do. I really didn’t feel like argueing, so I told him to please take the items off my order and I would purchase them somewhere else. He changed his tune and said that he “would do it for me this time” like he was doing me a favor. I think it’s just hard being treated like a criminal just for using coupons

    • annette

      Yes, I have had cashiers say “I will do it this one time too” lol

  • CJ

    I recently received by mail a coupon from Oscar Meyer for a free package of hot dogs, it was printed on paper telling about the promotion, had my name and address on it, etc. When I showed it to customer service at a grocery store and clearly said I received it in the mail from the company, I was told I couldnt use it because “we dont take internet coupons”. I had to patiently explain that it wasnt an internet coupon, it came in the mail, has my name and address on it, etc etc. They finally decided it would be okay. Its so frustrating when employees dont even listen to what you say, its like they have their minds already made up what excuse they should use to deny the coupon.

    • Julianna

      I got that coupon too and have been dreading taking it to a store because all of stores around me have it in their policy that they won’t take an internet coupon for a free item.

  • LisaCT

    A new cashier at Rite-Aid, she must be in her late 60s or early 70s scrutinizes my coupons and even the Rite-Aid UPRs. Today we kept reading the fine print and saying she needed to understand what it meant by “selected items”. I was buying toys and backpacks with my $20 UPR I got from my Scott paper deal. She acted like I got stuff I should not have. I hate that Rite-Aid when she is there!