Early on in my couponing journey, I tried using a lot of free coupons at Walmart. I wasn’t prepared for the battle we sometimes face at the register. Most trips to the store are pleasant and go well. However, there will be times when you will need a bit of a thick skin. If a cashier tells you something that you don’t think is right, don’t feel embarassed or ashamed to ask for the manager. And if you know for a fact a store policy is something different than what the customer service manager is telling you, ask for the store manager. And if they still won’t follow corporate policy, call their corporate office! I’ve done that many times at Target and often the store has learned something new about their own policy. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it has been in the past. Like I said, most trips are smooth and easy. But not always.
Here’s one amusing story from early on in my days of couponing. I had one coupon for the free polly pocket, and one for free juicy juice back in October before all the hoopla….and had a few other items in my order. Both coupons were directly from their manufacturer website–and I even had a letter from Nestle saying that the coupon was authentic and I was free to use it. The cashier stood there telling me she could only take it if it scans–without actually scanning it. Here’s the conversation, and I do not exaggerate in this one.
Cashier: I can only take it if it scans
Me: Sure. I understand. Can you try scanning it.
Cashier: Hmmm. I can only accept it if it scans. Lisa (neighboring cashier), can I take them if they don’t scan?
Lisa: No, we can’t.
Cashier: That’s what I thought. (hands back coupons, without scanning them once.) I can only take them if they scan.
Me: Can you try scanning them?
Cashier: Well, I can only take them if they scan. (goes over to confer with Lisa)
Lisa: Try scanning them.
Cashier: Well, I can only take them if they scan. Besides, you’d get those things for free.
Me: Well, yes, that’s kind of the idea. The companies want that.
Cashier: but you’d get them for free.
Cashier: (after a minute of staring at me like I was some sort of weird thief): See, I can only take them if they scan.
Me: (rapidly losing any semblance of patience since the ice cream is now melting and she’s not even attempted to scan them) But can you just TRY to scan them?
Lisa: Just try to scan them, see if they work.
Cashier: I need to ask my manager first.
(On goes blinking light.)
CSM: What do you need help with?
Cashier: I was telling her I can only accept her coupons if they scan.
CSM: Maam, we don’t accept coupons that don’t scan.
Me: Yes, I fully understand that. However, she hasn’t tried scanning them yet.
CSM: Have you tried scanning them yet?
Cashier: No, because I can only take them if they scan. And they’d make those items free.
CSM: That’s not a problem. (rolls eyes at cashier) Scan them. (walks away)
Cashier: Well, you heard her, I can only take them if they scan. (Hands me back the coupons.)
Me: Can I scan them for you? Or just give me my things and I’ll go through Lisa’s line.
Cashier: No, we can’t do that. See, we can only take them if they scan.
Me: Fine, give me the coupons and I’ll go to another line.
CSM reappears, noticing me still there.
CSM: Did they not scan?
Me: No, she still hasn’t tried them.
Cashier: They are for free items!
CSM: That’s none of your concern. Move.
CSM scans, everything works wonderfully. Polly pops up for price, cashier jumps in and points out the coupon is for $5 and the cars are only $2.99–CSM gives me the full $5 since I’d been through such an ordeal.
CSM: there, coupons scanned, take her money and wrap this order up.
Cashier: grumble, grumble…..that will be .49.
I want to add that often when a store is asking you questions about a coupon you’re using, their intent is not to embarass you. Often its just that they’ve had problems in the past and are being cautious now. Unfortunately, coupon fraud does happen. And stores must protect themselves. Unless they are being insulting, remain polite and courteous while they investigate the source of the problem. Often coupons beep without any fault on your part–but they need to run down just why it beeped to protect the store. I’ve also found that even when they are not as polite as they could be, that if you remain calm but insistent, you often get better results than if tempers start to flare.