The majority of my reader mail comes from consumers, but I always enjoy hearing from people who work on the “front lines” of where we consumers spend a lot of our time – the supermarket. This week, I’ve got two emails to share with stories from the checkout lanes:
I appreciate you giving advice on couponing and am all for it. I work as a cashier at a grocery store and would like to add a little advice for couponers. As a cashier, I appreciate receiving coupons at the beginning of checkout, not the end. Sometimes when a couponer comes in with stacks of coupons and hands them to us at the end, some people try slipping in extra coupons for the same product. We see this on a regular basis and know it is not accidental. Some will try to slip coupons through for items they are not buying at all. If a customer will tell us at the beginning they have a Buy One Get One Free coupon, we can fill in the price right away. It saves us a lot of time so we don't have to scroll back trying to find the item on our screen later.
One other tip is for customers to please be sure they are matching up the product with the right coupon. Example: A customer may give me a coupon for a brand of mascara, but they are purchasing the same brand of eyeliner, which costs less. They expect us to honor that, which we can’t. Coupons are very specific on what items they’re for if people will just read them.
Cashiers are as serious about what they do as couponers.
Again, we are all for couponing, and we appreciate people using coupons and shopping at our stores, just as much as we appreciate everyone doing it the right way. Hope this will be passed on.
I work in a supermarket, and I wanted to tell you something that’s been happening in our stores. Our corporate office is removing the self-checkout U-Scan machines from the store because of coupon fraud. We have had too many of these extreme couponers come in and scan a coupon for something, and then they stick an expired coupon for something else in the machine’s slot! We don’t get any reimbursement for sending those in, plus they don’t match up for what was sold. Sadly this has gotten so out of hand that the whole chain is taking the U-Scans out because the only way to watch every single coupon people use is to have them hand them to a cashier.
I appreciate both of these emails, and I continue to be dismayed by the stories of coupon misuse and fraud that I hear from those who see it firsthand. If you’re using coupons correctly, you have nothing to worry about, but it’s sad that some people still attempt to beat and cheat the system under the guise of “saving with coupons.” I would like to believe that the vast majority of couponers are doing things on the level, and if this is the case, there’s nothing to hide or conceal at checkout. At the same time, I’m well aware that trying to slip extra coupons through the system is one of the most common forms of coupon misuse. Yes, these coupons should beep at the register, indicating that they don’t match an item, but would it surprise you to learn that there are online couponing communities devoted to sharing the best “social engineering” techniques to coerce cashiers into accepting coupons for the wrong products? Sadly, as long as people participate in these kinds of behaviors, stores also need to be diligent about reducing fraud without discouraging correct coupon usage.
Smart Living Tip: Ask your cashier whether they’d like your coupons at the beginning or at the end of your transaction. In my experience, most of my stores ask for them at the end, but if a cashier wishes to match coupons to items before they’re scanned, respect his or her wishes.
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Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.